Young Arsenal left-back Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill has been ruled out for six to eight weeks with an ankle injury.
Ormonde-Ottewill has been the first-choice left-back for Arsenal’s U21 team this season, but his lengthy absence will force coach Steve Gatting into a reshuffle.
There is no obvious replacement left-back with suitable experience of second-string football, so first-year scholars Marc Bola and Elias Chatzitheodoridis could be in contention for call-ups. Bola, who can also play at centre-back, featured against Stoke City U21s last week. Chatzitheodoridis may not yet be considered ready for U21 football, however, with the youngster having endured a difficult debut for the U18s against Tottenham Hotspur recently.
Alternatively, Tafari Moore, who has played at left-back in Arsenal’s UEFA Youth League fixtures and for the England U17 team, could move across from right-back, which could open the door for first-year Chiori Johnson to receive more game time at U21 level.
England U19 international Ormonde-Ottewill has played five times for the U21s this season. He scored against Newcastle United when captaining the side last month.
Fellow defender Julio Pleguezuelo is unlikely to return in time to face Middlesbrough U21s on Friday. The Spaniard has only made one fleeting appearance for the club this season, which came at U18 level in August.
Meanwhile, Stefan O’Connor and Ainsley Maitland-Niles have been added to Arsenal’s Champions League squad after they signed their first professional contracts recently.