RYAN Noble could find himself in the firing line against the Gunners this weekend, as Steve Bruce looks to make the most of his injury-ravaged squad.
The Sunderland-born teenager impressed when he came on as a substitute against Everton last Saturday.
And Bruce admits he might turn to the 18-year-old again this week as he shuffles depleted resources.
He said: “Ryan comes into contention again for the weekend, although he might be involved off the bench.
“It’s an opportunity for him at the moment because we are struggling for numbers but he’s deserved his place in the squad.”
The promising striker is enjoying an interesting end to the campaign after seeing a loan spell at Championship club Derby County earlier in the season wrecked by a spinal injury.
Bruce said: “Ryan’s young and he’s eager. He’s missed three or four months of the season with a horrible stress fracture but that seems to have made him hungrier.
“I think he had an excellent 10-15 minutes when he came on against Everton on a day when so many of his team-mates were below par. He’s was bright and sharp and the one thing he is, is a natural goalscorer.
“When you have a natural goalscorer you’ve always got a chance, no matter how raw or how young.
“He’s still only a kid – he looked 12 years old when I brought him on to the pitch! But he will eventually develop, he’s got fantastic pace and he is a goalscorer.
“He’s come back from injury and he’s done great. He came on a sub for the reserves in his first game back and scored, came on as a sub in his second game back and scored, started his next game and scored, started his second game and scored, so he deserved his chance. We will have to wait but it looks as though we might have another very good player on our hands.”
If Noble is used this weekend, he’s likely to be reprising his role at Goodison Park – coming on as a substitute as Sunderland go two up front in a bid to end the season strongly.
Fellow strikers Fraizer Campbell and Danny Welbeck are on the comeback trail but they are not expected back this month, which leaves Noble with the chance to improve his first-team experience.