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Maitland-Niles - Why I love the wing

Ainsley Maitland Niles says it “felt great” to return to his natural position for Arsenal Under-21s.

The 17-year-old played in central midfield for most of the season but Issac Hayden’s return from injury saw Maitland-Niles switch to a more familiar role on the right wing in the Gunners’ final game against Wolves.

“It felt great being back on the wing,” Maitland-Niles told Arsenal.com. “I haven’t played there for a while so it was great to be back in my natural position.

"I’ve been switched around in roles a lot this season but I think I’ve dealt with it well"

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

“I prefer to play on the wing because it means that I can run at players more and use my pace to beat them, so I think I’m more effective out there. I’ve been switched around in roles a lot this season but I think I’ve dealt with it well.”

Maitland Niles’ performances in central midfield saw him make his first senior appearance in Arsenal’s 4-1 win against Newcastle United, before the England Under-18 international made his Champions League debut at Galatasaray.

“It was all brilliant,” he said. “I’m hungrier to play for the first team now and I want to make more of it. There’s always the possibility of getting another call up. I just have to work hard and carry on doing what I’m doing.

“I’m looking to go back with the first team in pre-season and train with them first of all. Then hopefully I can impress the boss and get picked for the tour.”

Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Stefan O'Connor in action for the first team

Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Stefan O'Connor in action for the first team