Charlie Patino ‘very close’ to Arsenal debut says Mikel Arteta after youngster left out of AFC Wimbledon win

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Charlie Patino was left out of the Arsenal squad to face AFC Wimbledon  (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Charlie Patino was left out of the Arsenal squad to face AFC Wimbledon (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says youngster Charlie Patino was “very close” to being a handed a debut in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup clash with AFC Wimbledon and insists his graduation to the first team will “happen naturally with time”.

Patino has been earning rave reviews for his performances with Arsenal’s Under-23 side and many were hoping to see him given an opportunity against the League One side at the Emirates.

However, the 17-year-old was not even named among the substitutes as Arteta took the chance to give his fringe players minutes rather than looking to the next generation.

The plan paid off as the Gunners cruised to a 3-0 win to set up a fourth round clash with Leeds.

“He was very close,” Arteta said when asked about Patino’s omission. “But at the end we decided that some players needed minutes. It will happen naturally with time.

“Charlie’s been good, he’s been training well with us and he played a practice game with us and was good. So, give us time and we will prepare him.”

Arteta made 10 changes to the side that beat Burnley in the Premier League at the weekend, with Thomas Partey the sole survivor.

The Ghanaian’s inclusion raised a few eyebrows given his injury record and the small matter of a north London derby looming against Tottenham on Sunday, but Arteta revealed the midfielder had asked to play in order to build match sharpness.

“He hasn’t played a lot of minutes since he’s been injured and the rhythm of matches is not like any training session,” Arteta added. “We need him to play so it was beneficial.

“We didn’t think [there was any risk] but there’s always a risk when you play a match or a training session at the intensity we train at. We believed it was the right thing to do and he was really pushing for it.”

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