Ruby Mace playing against Arsenal is a "win-win" for all involved, according to Joe Montemurro, who wants her to get as much "valuable experience" as possible while out on loan.
Mace will be gearing up to face her parent club with Birmingham City in a Women's Super League clash on Sunday afternoon.
The Blues snapped up the 17-year-old as a dual signing in January, as she also remains registered with the Gunners' academy, and Montemurro is looking forward to seeing how she performs against his side.
What's been said?
“I know there's a sort of coaches' ethical agreement that they don't play against the team that they've been loaned out from,” Montemurro told a pre-match press conference.
“It wasn't really a difficult decision for me, Ruby is out on loan for a purpose, she's out on loan to get game time and to play against the best teams possible.
“She'll get valuable experience playing against us, so, from my perspective, it's a win-win for all of us. She gets the minutes of football and more importantly, she gets that development that we need to bring her back.”
Mace's rapid rise to prominence
Mace only started playing for Arsenal in September last year, making her debut in a 4-0 FA Cup quarter-final victory over Tottenham off the bench.
The teenager also featured in six games across all competitions for Montemurro's side in the first half of the 2020-21 campaign before being loaned to Birmingham.
She has appeared in three games for the Blues to date, including an unfortunate 4-0 defeat at home to Manchester City last week, and will likely be handed another start against Arsenal.
The bigger picture
Mace started out at Arsenal in a midfield role, but has been shifted into the centre of defence at Birmingham under Carla Ward.
Montemurro thinks playing at the back will help her develop her skills in the middle of the park with a view to returning to Arsenal as a more complete all-round player.
“It was quite an interesting one because when we were approached, or when we were looking at Birmingham, they were looking for a centre-half and we know she'd played there with the junior national team so she's very, very comfortable in that position,” he added.
“We still consider her in the midfield role but I think the type of midfielder that she is, she's probably going to be more of a creative, structural and building the play sort of midfielder. For her to be playing and have that responsibility as a centre-back at Birmingham suits us fine.
“From my perspective, she's going to be put in positions where she's going to be under pressure and it's valuable for us and we think she'll mature really, really quickly playing in that position.”