Arsenal midfielder Krystian Bielik is unlikely to feature for Arsene Wenger's first-team in any capacity this season after suffering a thigh injury during the development squad's 1-0 defeat against Reading on Monday evening.
The young Pole was playing only his second game for the Gunners' U21s side since signing from Legia Warsaw in the January transfer window, but his progress has been swiftly halted by a fitness problem that is yet to be fully diagnosed.
Bielik lasted just 54 minutes of last night's clash with the Royals at the Emirates Stadium before being withdrawn as a precaution by youth team coach Steve Gatting, according to the club's official website.
The 17-year-old was deployed in an unfamiliar central defensive role for the second week in a row to accommodate for returning first-team stars Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby, who were both using the game to help build up their match fitness ahead of a prospective return to senior action before the end of the campaign.
Bielik is still viewed as a defensive midfielder, but is gaining experience of playing in a different position to aid his development in north London. However, the latest injury setback is likely to stall the progress he's been making since joining the Premier League giants at the turn of the year.
News of the talented teenager's fitness issues will come as a concern to Wenger, particularly if he'd hoped to incorporate the mid-season acquisition into his first-team plans between now and May 16.
The rapid rise to prominence of Francis Coquelin has at least strengthened the French tactician's options in front of his defence, with the 23-year-old having impressed in a deep-lying midfield position as a protective shield for the back four.
Bielik will now need to focus on getting back fit and ready to push on again in pre-season with a view to fulfilling his potential with more involvement in the senior Arsenal team next season.
Arsenal fans: Do you think Krystian Bielik will get his chance in Arsene Wenger's first-team next season, or is competition for midfield places too strong? Share your thoughts below…