Arsene Wenger has hinted he will hand a debut to Arsenal youngster Isaac Hayden, who he believes is ready for the Gunners' first team.
Arsenal are facing a run of four games in the next 13 days across three competitions, beginning with their Capital One Cup third round clash with Southampton on Tuesday.
Wenger has seen his options in defence stretched to their limit with Mathieu Debuchy ruled out for three months, Calum Chambers recovering from tonsillitis, and Nacho Monreal struggling with a back injury.
The Frenchman has turned to Spanish youngster Hector Bellerin to help supplement absences in recent weeks and has indicated he is now ready to call upon 19-year-old Hayden – who could fill a void both in defence and in midfield.
"He is a ball winner," Wenger told the club's official website when quizzed on the player, who made his debut for the Gunners at the same stage of the League Cup last year.
"He is a good central defender and a good central midfielder. Technically he was working on his game a bit, but now he is ready for that level."
Should Chambers be unavailable to provide cover for the first choice centre half partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, Wenger may call upon Hayden to fill in at the heart of defence.
But having pointed out the teenager's ball winning abilities and his versatility, the youngster could be set for a holding midfield role, a position that went unaddressed during the summer transfer window.
The Gunners boss also indicated he is ready to hand Bellerin another starting role against Southampton this evening, with Francis Coquelin, Chuba Akpom, and Semi Ajayi also in his thinking.
"We still have a team of experienced players, and we want to do well in this competition," Wenger continued.
"I believe this is an opportunity to give a game to players who need it and we go into a period where we play, and play, and play, and we want to continue to win our games."