Mikel Arteta admits that he was “close” to including Charlie Patino in the Arsenal squad to face AFC Wimbledon in the Carabao Cup.
The Gunners progressed to the fourth round of the competition after recording a 3-0 win over the League One side at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night.
Patino, 17, has caught the eye with a series of impressive performances at Under-23s level and earned further positive reviews in a behind-closed-doors friendly match against Brentford.
He was expected to be involved in the game against Wimbledon but football.london understands midfielder Thomas Partey pushed for minutes as he looks to build his match sharpness ahead of Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, the Spaniard did hint at freshening things up whilst also wanting to name a strong team.
“Absolutely and you have to praise that for sure,” he said. “Let’s see who’s available, how they recover and what is the best way to approach the game.
“I hope that I can put out the strongest team I can.
“That means that the players have performed really well and then give a really strong performance and this is what we want to do.”
Patino will have a full season of under-23s football this season as he gradually gets integrated into the first team.
“He was very close, but in the end we decided that some players needed some minutes,” said Arteta after the game.
“It will happen naturally, in time.”
“Charlie’s been good. He played a practice match at Colney and he was really good.
“Again, give him time and we will prepare him.”