Calum Chambers will be hoping for a rare start for Arsenal at Southampton on Saturday as manager Mikel Arteta revealed there are no plans to loan out the defender this month.
The 26-year-old suffered a serious knee injury soon after Arteta’s appointment in December 2019, but since working his way back to fitness has found first-team opportunities hard to come by.
He has started just once for Arsenal this season and that was a dead-rubber Europa League fixture against Dundalk.
The number of defensive options available to Arteta at the start of the campaign was always going to present a problem for Chambers to come back in and hold down a place.
Having previously been loaned out to Middlesbrough and Fulham, Arteta – who also played alongside Chambers at Arsenal – has suggested he wants to keep the three-cap England international at the Emirates Stadium.
“I don’t think that is going to happen,” he replied, when asked if Chambers would be loaned out.
“I am really happy with Calum. He has gone through a really difficult period. He has worked so hard.
“He has looked really good in the last few weeks in training. He is not even thinking about his knee right now. We want to give him minutes when we can because he is a player that we believe in.”
Arteta is likely to rotate his side at St Mary’s as he then takes Arsenal back for a Premier League clash with Saints on Tuesday night.
That could also mean a chance for another former Southampton man to feature, with Cedric Soares having impressed as Hector Bellerin’s deputy at right-back in recent weeks.
“When he joined us he had various injuries and some difficult times,” Arteta said when asked about the Portugal international, who joined last January.
“It took him a little bit of time to adapt and get completely free and now earn the chances to play. The best thing with Cedric is the way he takes his profession, the way he trains, the way he prepares himself.
“When I see someone behaving like he has done and training like he has done, all the time trying to help but accepting my decision – which is tough for him – but at the end, challenging in a way where he is all the time competing in training. And when he has the chance to play he does it well and all the time asking for reasons why he’s not playing and what he has to do better. I just want to reward this kind of behaviour and player and Cedric has done that for sure.”
New signing Mat Ryan could also feature on the south coast, the Australia international goalkeeper completing his loan move from Brighton in time to be considered for the game.