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Tolaji Bola may be one of the lesser hyped youngsters in Arsenal’s academy, but the defender could become a more familiar name to many fans over the next month or so.
The left-back has gained plenty of experience playing for Arsenal at U23 level, including during their title-winning campaign last season, but first-team football has, so far at least, eluded him.
That might be about to change, with Arsenal’s Europa League and Carabao Cup campaigns set to get underway later this month.
Bola was one of seven youngsters selected to train with the first-team this week, with Unai Emery casting his eye over the erstwhile England youth international.
Nacho Monreal is firmly established as Arsenal’s first-choice left-back but, with rotation likely to occur in the cup games, it is rather concerning that the club don’t have many alternative options in that area at present.
Sead Kolasinac would ordinarily fill in but is injured, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles, another first-team option in that position, is also sidelined.
With regards to youth players, Jordi Osei-Tutu coped admirably at left-back in pre-season despite normally being deployed in the opposite full-back berth. However, he too is injured and, although he may be back soon, might not be match fit in time to face Brentford in the Carabao Cup.
Cohen Bramall, meanwhile, is also injured and, in any case, isn’t able to play in the Europa League as he wasn’t registered in Arsenal’s squad for the competition.
Stephan Lichtsteiner could potentially play at left-back, but the experienced Swiss international is much more likely to be used at right-back, which means that Bola could be in pole position to, at the very least, get on the bench against Brentford.
The 19-year-old has worked extremely hard to get to this stage and is excellent going forwards, with his teasing crosses proving very difficult for opposing defences to deal with.
Bola isn’t the most reliable defender, however, as he can frequently get pulled out of position and leave the centre-backs exposed.
The circumstances may well dictate, though, that Bola will get his chance and the Hale End product will certainly be determined to seize it if it does arrive as he seeks to prove to Emery that he is a player that can make an impact.