2. Defensive work
This has always been a long growth process for Ainsley Maitland-Niles, a right-winger who wants to play central midfield. Playing on the backline comes with brand new responsibilities that he wouldn’t have been used to.
In the attack, or even in the midfield, if he makes a defensive mistake he can gather himself and track back, trusting the team behind him to defend. But there are times now when he’s the last man, the last line of defense, so without sturdy defense, if he’s too easy to get around, the team suffers and gets put into precarious situations.
Maitland-Niles has improved quite a bit on the defensive side of things, and with his speed, he can still make good on recovery if something happens, but there’s still ground to make up if he’s going to be a reliable and trustworthy rightback. As a wingback, that’s not as delicate of a situation, but it’s still important.
Again, he’s getting better, and this is predicated on him actually staying, but if the better he can get on the defensive side of things, the more he’s going to enjoy his time at rightback.
Most importantly, No. 1.