How excited should Arsenal be about latest group of youngsters? Scouting report from Doncaster Carabao Cup win
Arsene Wenger may have shifted his League Cup selection policy from fielding a youth team to giving fringe players minutes, but the competition is still the best place to see Arsenal youngsters in competitive action. On Wednesday night, the focus was on three academy graduates who were given the chance to impress in the Carabao Cup third-round win over Doncaster Rovers. Telegraph Sport runs the rule over the trio, and assesses their chances of making a breakthrough into the first team. Reiss Nelson Most of the pre-match excitement about Arsene Wenger's team selection on Wednesday night was the chance to see the highly-rated 17-year-old Reiss Nelson, whose squad number is more than three times his age. Nelson has been with the club since the age of nine and impressed in pre-season with his swashbuckling displays in the Emirates Cup and on the tour of Australia. He also came on for the final minutes of last week's 3-1 Europa League win against Cologne, but this was a full debut. As he did against Benfica in the Emirates Cup, Nelson started in the right wing-back position, though it quickly became apparent that he had only a passing interest in defending, often bombing beyond Theo Walcott or meandering inside. Nelson's suspect positioning was perhaps unsurprising given that he plays mainly as an attacking midfielder for the under-23s, for whom he has scored six goals in five appearances this season. His confidence and ability going forward was evident all night, with his bursts up the right flank causing havoc in the Doncaster defence and a couple of efforts drawing smart saves from the visitors' goalkeeper Ian Lawlor. Defensively though, Nelson was shaky and he was twice badly caught out in the second half to gift Doncaster openings that more clinical forwards would have profited from. Reiss Nelson gets involved for Arsenal against Doncaster on Wednesday night There was a moment in the first half that summarised the youngster's night, when he made a mess of a clearance before moments later using his searing pace to dribble away with the ball and then play a perfectly-weighted pass up the line for Theo Walcott. The important things to remember with Nelson are his age and inexperience. He is only 17, and prior to the summer had never played in defence. Fortunately for him, Wenger has quite the pedigree in converting naturally attacking players into excellent full-backs, including Hector Bellerin, Ashley Cole and Lauren. With his speed, athleticism and eagerness to get involved in his side's attacks, Nelson is in many ways the prototype Wengerian full-back. Expect to see more of him before the season is out, especially with Arsenal's other back-up right wing-back options either on loan (Carl Jenkinson) or out of favour (Mathieu Debuchy). Arsenal youngsters to watch this season Ainsley Maitland-Niles At 20 years old and having made seven appearances last season, Ainsley Maitland-Niles is a relative veteran compared to Nelson. Maitland-Niles, a local lad who joined Arsenal at the age of six, is known for his versatility but said in the pre-match programme that he views himself as a central midfielder. Having played as a defender for Arsenal previously, Maitland-Niles started as a left wing-back against Doncaster, which he also did against Cologne last week. Like Nelson, it was clear early on that Maitland-Niles had more interest in attacking than defending. He got forward very effectively in the first half, and put in a number of dangerous crosses as he combined well with Alexis Sanchez down the Arsenal left. In the second half, Maitland-Niles was more disciplined, as he recognised the need to hold his position and support the callow Josh Dasilva, who had come on at half-time in central defence. Maitland-Niles also showed superb speed and awareness to charge back and deny Alfie May after Nelson had been horribly caught out. Wenger says that Maitland-Niles is "close" to playing more regularly, while the player himself said on Wednesday that he is targeting a few Premier League stars this season. He certainly looks ready to step up, and could offer a solution to the defensive midfield area where Arsenal look so vulnerable. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is forced to defend on Wednesday night Josh Dasilva When Calum Chambers was forced off with a hip injury at half-time, Nacho Monreal seemed the obvious choice to come on as the left-sided centre-back in the Arsenal back three. Instead Wenger turned to Josh Dasilva, an 18-year-old attacking midfielder, who only broke into the Arsenal under-21 side towards the end of last season. Besides being physically imposing and left-footed, Dasilva - another English academy graduate - looked about as equipped for the role as the FA investigating misconduct. His first two contributions were to pass the ball straight to an opposition player, and then get nutmegged in front of his manager. Shortly after, he got himself in a tangle and was turned by Matty Blair, before Per Mertesacker exhorted him to focus and move up alongside the rest of the back three. At times it felt as though Dasilva had been brought on to give Mertesacker some practice for his role as academy manager, which he will start next season. Josh Dasilva plays the ball out from defence against Doncaster But as the second half wore on, Dasilva settled down and began to show his technical proficiency and comfort on the ball. He is clearly very talented, and will have learned a huge amount from playing out of position, and at a level higher than what he is used to. It would be a surprise if Dasilva's future was at the back, but then Wenger did a similar conversion job on Kolo Toure, who arrived as a winger and became an 'Invincible' central defender.