ADAM Armstrong defended new teammate Ainsley Maitland-Niles, saying “I think he is a great fit” after the Arsenal loanee was excluded from the last matchday squad.
Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl admitted he has “a lot of work to do” before the 25-year-old is ready to play in the Premier League for Saints, after the defeat at Aston Villa before the break.
Maitland-Niles did make his debut at Wolves the previous matchday, coming on in midfield as a late substitute in the first of two 1-0 defeats in the Midlands.
The versatile deadline day addition signed a season-long loan deal that is thought to have an option to buy, but Hasenhuttl clearly sent him a message by leaving him out of the group altogether.
It was a decision that meant having only Joe Aribo – who is much more proficient further forward – as a back-up in the defensive midfield area, for starter Ibrahima Diallo.
"Every team has a different way of playing and how a manager wants us to play,” Armstrong, who has appeared in every Premier League match this campaign, admitted.
“But it is something we are always working on as a squad every day to get better and to put performances right on the pitch.
"I played with Ainsley [Maitland-Niles] before and I think he is a great fit for our squad. He has a lot of energy and a lot of quality as well.”
Armstrong was a teammate of Maitland-Niles when he won the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in 2017 with England – the country’s first appearance in a global final since 1966.
“He can play in a lot of different positions and he was at Arsenal for a reason,” Armstrong added. “He broke into that team and he is a great addition to the squad."
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