Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta insists Gabriel Martinelli still has “a bright future” at the club.
Fans of the Gunners have expressed concern over the forward’s lack of game time.
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Martin Keown has also become the latest former Arsenal player to question why Arteta is not using Martinelli more.
Martinelli, 19, has not started a match since January in a season where injuries have also had an impact.
He has only started three Premier League games all season, despite the Gunners being down in 11th place going into Sunday’s match at Sheffield United.
‘Arsenal cannot put six or seven kids out there’
Arteta understands the questioning especially at a time Arsenal are struggling, without a win in four games.
He insists Martinelli will get his chances, but told the promising forward he still has much to improve.
“That I understand,” Arteta said about the Martinelli questions.
“When the team is not winning enough football matches, we always look for someone else to do it.
“But we can name a few of those.
“I respect that, and Gabi is doing really well. He is doing better every day, he is getting the right development.
“We have to be a little bit patient with him but he has a bright future at the club.
“He will have all the opportunities that he needs to show us how good he is and the career he can have with us.”
The Arsenal boss added: “We cannot put six or seven young kids out there.
“We need some cohesion, we need the timing.
“Gabi has a lot of things to improve. He has got big qualities as well, and we have other players in those positions.
“Then we have to create links within the team and balance within the team. This will come.”
Martinelli scored 10 times last season in his first campaign with the Gunners but is yet to open his account this season.
With captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ruled out against Sheffield United, Arsenal fans hope this will be a chance to shine for Martinelli.