Arsenal have called up young defender Reuell Walters to first-team training following William Saliba's back injury.
The French centre-back was substituted in his team's second-leg 1-1 (3-3 on aggregate) draw against Sporting CP in the UEFA Europa League on March 16. Rob Holding was brought on in his place in the 21st minute to play the rest of the game, which the Gunners lost on penalties.
Arsenal fans would have naturally been anxious about the nature of Saliba's injury, given how important he has been to them. He has featured in 33 games across competitions for them this campaign.
French outlet L'Equipe (h/t The Boot Room) has now claimed that the 21-year-old could be out for several weeks with an injury. Manager Mikel Arteta has responded to the news of Saliba's injury by calling up Reuell Walters to first-team training. The 18-year-old is yet to make a single senior appearance for the north London giants.
He came through the youth ranks at Tottenham Hotspur's academy, where he spent four years between 2013 and 2017. The Englishman joined Arsenal's youth set-up in October 2020.
The right-footed teenager is primarily a right-back but can also play as a centre-back as well as a left-back if and when required. He has started in all of his team's last 13 Premier League 2 matches, where Arsenal U21s sit seventh in the table.
Walters was, however, substituted at half-time in their 2-0 Premier League 2 loss against Crystal Palace on March 17. This could have been a precautionary move to protect him from injuries as Arteta called him up to train with the senior side.
Reuell Walters could provide Arsenal cover at right-back
Takehiro Tomiyasu was also injured in Arsenal's second-leg Europa League match against Sporting CP in Lisbon.
The Japan international, who, like Reuell Walters, can play anywhere across the backline, was substituted in the ninth minute for Ben White. It has been claimed that Tomiyasu could miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Walters, hence, could add important depth to manager Mikel Arteta's side on the bench. Rob Holding is likely to partner Gabriel Magalhaes at the heart of the Gunners' defense against Crystal Palace later today (March 19).
Ben White is expected to play at right-back, where he could be Arteta's undisputed starter in Tomiyasu's absence. Hence, Walters is unlikely to start in the league game against the Eagles but could be named on the bench.
Arsenal are out of all cup competitions but have the chance to win their first league title since 2004. They hold a five-point lead at the top of the table after 27 games.