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Allardyce offers Arsenal loanee Ainsley Maitland-Niles advice

Sam Allardyce has suggested – in comments reported by the Daily Mirror – that Ainsley Maitland-Niles should be prepared to play wherever he is needed as the youngster edges closer to the end of his loan spell and a return to Arsenal.

Maitland-Niles has endured an interesting season. He left the Gunners in the winter after struggling to hold down a spot in Mikel Arteta’s plans.

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According to Sky Sports, his decision to join West Brom on loan was influenced by the fact that he would be able to play in his preferred role in central midfield.

The 23-year-old has impressed at times during his spell at the Hawthorns. But he has arguably not been able to stake a real claim for a midfield chance upon his return to Arsenal.

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And Allardyce has now suggested that Maitland-Niles’s best chance to earn a prominent role with the Gunners will come by being flexible.

“If I were him, I’d play wherever the manager picked me – and I’d never turn it down because if you are able to play in a number of positions, then you are going to get more games than if you had one position and one position only,” he said, as reported by the Daily Mirror.

“Perhaps you don’t want to be tagged as a ‘utility player’ but sometimes those people are played more often than those who are stubborn and say: ‘I want to play in that position and nowhere else.’”

TBR View: Maitland-Niles’s loan may have done little for his midfield hopes

It is really difficult to see Maitland-Niles making the grade at Arsenal as a central midfielder. It certainly seems that he could struggle to become a key player.

Arteta has a number of players to pick from. And it is arguably an ominous sign that he has predominantly stuck to using the England international as a full-back.

Unfortunately, his spell at the Hawthorns has probably not seen Maitland-Niles prove enough of a point. He has done extremely well at times. But it does not seem like Arsenal fans have been ruing the decision to loan him out either.

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