Charlie Patino hasn’t played since January 25th but the midfielder is closing in on a return following a spell out injured.
Patino is back in training and will hope to be in action soon, which will certainly be a boost for Arsenal U23s.
The 18-year-old’s primary aim will be to add to his two first-team appearances but it is likely that he will mainly be playing for the U23s.
Patino’s return and that of Salah-Eddine from suspension means that U23s coach Kevin Betsy has an abundance of options to choose from in midfield.
It seems certain that Patino, given his status as one of Arsenal’s best prospects, will be given a regular starting berth for the U23s when he is not required for first-team training. Salah-Eddine has also often performed well this season, while there needs to be space in the team for Miguel Azeez.
Since returning from his loan spell at Portsmouth Azeez has produced some rather understated performances for the U23s which have included the occasional moment of brilliance.
There is the possibility that Azeez could operate in the number ten position. This may not be his natural role but it does prevent him from having too many defensive responsibilities.
In order to deploy Azeez as an attacking midfielder with Patino and Salah-Eddine behind him, Betsy would probably have to alter the composition of his team and switch to a four-man defence.
It is also possible that Salah-Eddine could be used out wide – he has demonstrated that he is capable of cutting infield and scoring from the left flank, but Omari Hutchinson and Marcelo Flores seem undroppable at present.
There are other players to consider too. Jack Henry-Francis has enjoyed a regular run of games for the U23s in Patino’s absence.
However, it appears that despite his performances having mostly been of a good standard, Henry-Francis could now find himself back on the bench, while he could play some games for the U18s.
James Olayinka recently returned from injury and was used as a right wing-back against Tottenham Hotspur but he has plenty of experience of playing in midfield.
It seems though that Olayinka could be used in different positions for the remainder of the campaign.
Overall, it will be intriguing to see how Patino’s return impacts how Arsenal line up at U23 level.
The league title appears to be out of reach for Arsenal U23s but there is still the opportunity for glory in the Premier League Cup, with the young Gunners travelling to take on Middlesbrough in that competition.