The 2022/23 season may just have finished, but with the Spurs first team’s first friendly of next pre-season taking place on the 18th of July against West Ham United in Perth, Australia, I thought that I’d write this article earlier than I usually would. The two other pre-season friendly matches that have been scheduled so far, are against Leicester City in Bangkok, Thailand, on the 23rd of July, and on the 26th of July they face Italian side AS Roma in Singapore. Pre-season often means that Spurs’ Academy players/graduates get the opportunity to play for the first team and make an impression, and hopefully that will be the case this summer, as well. In the following piece, the players that I have written about/selected that I personally would like to see feature for the Spurs first team in pre-season, are just my personal opinions. However, there are so many other players that I could also have written about/included in this piece, and as always it is very difficult just to write about just five players. I wish all of the Spurs Academy players the very best of luck for 2023/24.
Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: Having featured in this annual series of articles for the last couple of years, as many of you will know, I’ve always thought very highly of Brooklyn Lyons-Foster as a player. The Islington born defender is a very versatile player, who is capable of playing in central defence, full-back (on either flank) and in midfield. He is a superb reader of the game, who despite being very unlucky with injuries over the last couple of seasons, he has returned even stronger and in my opinion better than before, from these injuries. Since returning to play for the Spurs Under 21 side at central-defence during the following season, from a defensive-midfield position, Brooklyn was in my opinion the Spurs Under 21’s best player last season. The quality and leadership that the 22 year old showed for that side was very good, and Spurs really missed him at such an important stage of the season, after he was ruled out for several weeks through injury. Very comfortable on the ball and able to bring it out well from defence and also distribute it well, Lyons-Foster’s excellent positioning and all-round defending has impressed me greatly for a long time.
Formerly of Watford’s Academy set-up, Brooklyn has already featured for the Spurs first team in pre-season of 2021, but in my opinion he really deserves an opportunity to show his quality for the Spurs first team in the pre-season of 2023.
Maxwell McKnight: Although Maxwell McKnight hasn’t made many appearances for the Spurs Under 21 side so far, the first year professional (from 2023/24) is a player who can play in a number of positions. The 18 year old from Colchester was formerly with West Ham United prior to joining Spurs, and in his two seasons as a scholar with the club I thought that he was one of the Spurs Under 18’s best and most impressive players. He is capable of playing at right-back, as a winger and at left-back, and he has often demonstrated his ability to get forward with the ball, and to create chances from wide positions. In 2021/22 Maxwell McKnight provided an impressive number of assists, as well as defending well when he needed to. He has a great ability to cross the ball, and the accuracy of his crosses is impressive. However, Maxwell’s work off the ball is in my opinion equally as impressive. He works really well off the ball, and his movement and pace are very good. A regular for the Spurs Under 18 side in 2022/23, he was a member of the Spurs Under 18 side that won the Under 18 Premier League Cup, during the same season.
Maxwell McKnight is a player with a really good balance to his game, and his ability to cover a number of positions could possibly mean that he features for the Spurs first team during pre-season of this year. On his only competitive appearance for the Spurs Under 21 side, at right-back in a Papa Johns Trophy game (against Peterborough United’s first team, last year) Maxwell was in my opinion Spurs’ best player in that game.
George Abbott: In the 2023/24 season Spurs Under 18’s regular and defensive-midfielder George Abbott will be a first year professional with Spurs. The Londoner, who is 17 (he turns 18 in August), will be known to most Spurs fans, after he made his competitive first team debut for Spurs as a late substitute against Leeds United, on Sunday in the Premier League. George made a really fine late challenge in the Spurs penalty area shortly after being introduced to the game. He is a tenacious midfield player with excellent off the ball work, but he is also good on the ball, and he has good pace and skill, which allows him to bring it forward well from midfield. George can also play at right-back and left-back, and he did well there during the season just gone, often playing in those positions for the Spurs Under 21 side, who he made a good number of appearances for, at that level. The Islington born Spurs player has made really good strides over the last year, and his first team debut last Sunday, was really well deserved. He is strong in the challenge, and his ability to play in a good number of positions will stand him in really good stead for the future.
Harvey White: The talented and creative central midfielder often plays in a deep lying central midfield position. However, the former CAM still has a real creative side to his game. From Maidstone in Kent, Harvey White has already featured for the Spurs team, in friendly matches and in competitive games. He trained regularly with the Spurs first team during the first half of last season, making his Premier League debut in a game with Crystal Palace, before joining League One side Derby County on a loan move for the second half of the season. Harvey is very capable of setting the tempo of games, and he is often the focal point of creativity in the middle of the pitch, for Spurs at Academy level. He has a great left foot and he is also a real set-piece specialist, with great vision. However, he is also a real leader, who doesn’t shy away from showing his leadership qualities on the pitch. Next pre-season will hopefully allow the 21 year old to get a good amount of game time, to demonstrate his quality for the first team.
Troy Parrott: The Republic of Ireland international and Spurs Academy graduate will be hoping to get a good opportunity to impress the Spurs coaching staff in pre-season of 2023. The Dubliner and centre-forward was on loan at Preston North End, in the Championship last season. He may not have scored as many goals as he would have hoped, but pre-season will hopefully provide the very talented 21 year old an opportunity to get a good run of games for the Spurs first team. Always looking to make clever runs off the ball, the centre-forward showed so often for Spurs at Academy level that he is such a clinical finisher. His ability to score a real variety of goal and get past players for pace and skill, made Troy one of the best Academy forwards in England. Playing with better players around him, with a different style of play would in my opinion really benefit the centre-forward, and also allow him to flourish.