By Alex Taylor
Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech has challenged new signing Rob Holding to bridge the gap left by the injured Per Mertesacker at the start of the Premier League season.
Holding arrived this summer from Bolton and will have a chance to make the step-up to the first team quickly after Mertesacker suffered a long-term injury this summer.
The youngster made 30 appearances last term and was a shining light in Bolton’s wretched campaign that ended in relegation to League One.
“Now with Per out, the challenge and the possibilities for every central defender is bigger,” Cech told ESPN. “It’s up to [Holding] how he’s going to play and how he’s going to work.
“The same is true for Gabriel and Calum Chambers. This is their moment to show the manager they are up to the task.”
The England Under-21 international is a versatile defender capable of playing at either centre-back or full-back.
He was named Bolton’s Player of the Year last season, and was part of Gareth Southgate’s tournament-winning under-21 side, that also included new team-mate Calum Chambers.
The 20-year-old will face stiff competition from the current crop of Arsenal centre-backs for an immediate first-team place, with senior players Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel and Chambers expected to be higher in the pecking order.
In other Arsenal team news, they have issued a hands-off warning to Premier League rivals who are interested in defender Hector Bellerin.