Ainsley Maitland-Niles made a rare appearance for Arsenal on Monday night.

Freddie Ljungberg has paid tribute to Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles for his performance in Monday night’s 3-1 win away to West Ham United.

The 22-year-old started last night’s victory in East London after Hector Bellerin suffered a knock in the warm-up.

In doing so, it was Maitland-Niles’s first Premier League appearance since September after falling out of favour under former Arsenal boss Unai Emery, who was sacked a couple of weeks ago.

And Ljungberg, the Gunners’ caretaker boss, has told the club’s official website that he was hugely proud of the London Colney product after being ‘out in the cold’.

He said: “We took him off and had a straight swap on that with Ainsley, and Ainsley had been out in the cold for a little bit and comes on and does really well, so I’m really proud of him and happy for him.”

It was a mixed return to the first XI for Maitland-Niles, but rust was always a possibility after being denied Premier League football for so long.

He is by no means a bad player, but Arsenal and Ljungberg definitely need Bellerin’s knock to be as short term as possible.

The North Londoners have a lot of games over the coming weeks and rotation will be key.

Ljungberg has other right-back options, namely Calum Chambers, but Bellerin is undeniably the best man for the job and the sooner he’s back, the better.

In other news, Report: Club now planning for £18m star to leave after Wolves and Villa bids