Ali praises Maldini Kacurri and Reuell Walters after Arsenal U21s beat Burnley

With Arsenal U21s in the midst of a hectic schedule, coach Mehmet Ali elected for a centre-back pairing against Burnley that was comprised of two prospects who are technically U18 players.

Reuell Walters, who captained the side, already has plenty of experience at U21 level and impressed with the first-team in pre-season. The 17-year-old was making his first start of the campaign after returning from injury and again demonstrated his versatility as he played as a left-sided centre-back.

Alongside him was a player who has made tremendous progress since joining Arsenal towards the end of last season following his departure from Fulham.

16-year-old Maldini Kacurri, an Albania youth international, has been a regular for Arsenal U18s in the early stages of the season and is now taking his chance with the U21s.

Speaking to Arsenal Player after the 3-1 win, Ali said: ‘I was really impressed with Maldini as a right centre-half. I thought he defended really well.

‘Reuell’s been injured for a while, he was flying in pre-season, he had an opportunity with the first-team and did well, so I thought both centre-halves today were excellent.

‘Those two obviously took the opportunity to play today and did well.

‘All of them, their attitude towards the game and application was excellent. Of course, there are areas that they all need to improve on, which we will address and help them with, and that will help them with their development going forwards.’

Zane Monlouis and Zach Awe started the season as Arsenal’s first-choice centre-back pairing at U21 level and they impressed before Monlouis suffered an injury, which allowed Taylor Foran to come into the side.

With Kacurri and Walters impressing and Henry Jeffcott also capable of operating at centre-back, Ali knows that he has plenty of options at the heart of the defence, which will be especially useful given the amount of games that are scheduled for the next couple of months.

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