Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he was not tempted to keep some of his young stars at the club to bolster their League Cup bid, insisting their own personal developments out on loan are more important.
The Gunners crashed out of the fourth round of the League Cup on 27 October after a harrowing 3-0 defeat to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday. Finnish midfielder Glen Kamara and winger Alex Iwobi were handed their full debuts, with 17-year-old Ismael Bennacer also entering the fray after 19 minutes to replace the injured Theo Walcott, but all three struggled to make an impression as a disappointing Arsenal side wilted at Hillsborough.
Wenger has regularly used the cup competition as a chance to blood some of his youngsters but was without the services of some of the club's brightest young talents in midfielder Gedion Zelalem, winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Dan Crowley, who have left on temporary loan deals.
Despite not having the club's best and brightest at his disposal, Wenger says he does not regret letting players leave on loan. "I think we were a bit punished by the fact we had many players out on loan, but it is difficult to block them until November and not let them go just because you have a League Cup game," Wenger told Arsenal player.
"So this season, for example, I had many players go who would have played on Tuesday night like Chuba [Akpom], Gedion, Maitland-Niles, Dan Crowley – they would have played. But I think about the development of the player and they are at an age where they need competition.
"We play them early so they arrive [in the squad] at the age of 19 and they've already played two or three years in the under-21s. You don't feel they move forward anymore, they need something different, to feel that their progress continues. The only thing is to play regularly for a first team that has a responsibility for results."
Zelalem, 18, is enjoying a fine first spell away from his parent club in Scotland with Rangers, while Maitland-Niles, also 18, is thriving on loan at Ipswich Town. Crowley, meanwhile, joined Barnsley on loan in July but is reportedly poised to return to the Gunners.