Some notes on recent Spurs Academy signing Will Lankshear:

Although I don’t still write my match reports and attend the Spurs Academy matches, I’ve still managed to watch the vast majority of centre-forward Will Lankshear’s games for Spurs, since he made the move to the club from Sheffield United in the summer. The 17 year old second year scholar had previously been with Arsenal, before moving to Sheffield United’s Academy, where he scored a great number of goals for their Under 18’s, and also some for their Under 21 side as well. Lankshear has made seven competitive appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side so far this season, scoring an impressive eight goals, and providing three assists. In addition to his appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side, Will has also made six appearances for the Spurs Under 21 side, and two appearances for the Spurs Under 19 side in the UEFA Youth League, scoring one goal for them from those two appearances. Lankshear is a strong centre-forward, whose movement off the ball is excellent and very effective in matches.

Will has really adapted well to Spurs’ playing style, in my opinion, since joining them last year. He has also put in some really good performances, as well, contributing far more than just goals. Reminding me a little bit of Troy Parrott, when he was the same age and playing for the Spurs Academy, Lankshear is really good at pressing the defenders. A very hard working centre-forward who can hold the ball up well, link the play and also most importantly score goals and create goals for his teammates. Lankshear worked so hard during his time on the pitch, in the Spurs Under 18’s recent Premier League South game against Chelsea on Saturday, and he did everything but score a goal, and he was unlucky not to get his goal in the end. Battling for every ball, making clever runs off it and also playing the game with a great intensity, Lankshear also managed to get the assist for Rio Kyerematen’s goal.

In another match, this time away to Crystal Palace (a game which Spurs won 3-1), Will Lankshear scored one goal and also created some good chances in that game. His hold-up play was good, and his strength on the ball and his intelligent movement off it, made him very difficult to defend against. Will has definitely started very well at Spurs, and having featured for the Under 21 side on a number of occasions already, as well as featuring twice for the Spurs first team in mid season friendly matches, are really good signs for the future for him at the club. Obviously he has also shown that he is a very good finisher inside the penalty area, and he has scored a good variety of goals so far this season. He will be a very important player for the Spurs Under 18 side when they face Manchester City on Saturday, in the quarter-finals of the 2022/23 Under 18 Premier League Cup.

My short piece on Spurs’ Academy defender Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and his excellent recent form for the Spurs Development side:

A player that I have written a number of articles on in recent years, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster (22), is a player who I have always thought very highly of, regardless of which position he plays in on the pitch. The versatile Islington born defender returned from a serious injury that he sustained in a Premier League 2 fixture against Blackburn Rovers last season, during this pre-season. However, Brooklyn only started his first competitive game for the Spurs Under 21 side in late September of last year, in a 4-0 Premier League 2 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion. Since that game he has almost always played in central defence, a position which he regularly used to play in for a number of years. Putting in a series of very impressive and influential performances for the Spurs Under 21 side, against the likes of Fulham, Manchester United, West Ham and Arsenal, Brooklyn has bounced back from his very unfortunate injury, to in my opinion become such an important member of the Under 21 side, and a real leader in the side as well.

It hasn’t just been the defensive blocks, the important challenges and the great reading of the game that he has shown, alongside his central defensive partner Malachi Fagan-Walcott. It has also been the maturity, responsibility and leadership that he has shown in every single game this season that he has played. And just like in Spurs’ first two wins of the season, against Liverpool and Arsenal respectively, in the last two matches. Brooklyn has been so important and influential in helping Spurs to get those all important victories, as they look to climb their way up the Division One table. He has unfortunately had three bad injuries since joining Spurs full-time in 2017, but every time he has returned stronger from those injuries, and he has slotted back into the Spurs Under 21 side as if he was never away in the first place. 

Watching those recent Premier League 2 games against West Ham, Liverpool and Arsenal, I thought that Brooklyn was the best player on the pitch in all three of those games. Such was his excellent reading of the game, the intensity that he has played the game at in central defence, and also his all-round defending and decision making. He was leading by example in the recent 2-0 win over Arsenal, and I noticed, although I don’t recall him making a sliding challenge, he read that match and anticipated what the Arsenal forwards were going to do with the ball, with such ease and style. Japhet Tanganga made his senior competitive debut for the Spurs first team fairly late in his development, and I would love to see 22 year old Brooklyn Lyons-Foster also get his chance at the top level for his boyhood club, at some stage in the near future. I have no doubts whatsoever, that he would step up and perform with real quality at the very highest level.

Looking at how former Spurs Academy player Rafferty Pedder is getting on, over a year since leaving Spurs to join QPR:

For a long while he was incredibly unlucky with injuries, during part of his time in the Spurs Academy set-up, prior to signing scholarship forms with the club in 2018. However, midfielder Rafferty Pedder showed great resilience after spending so long on the sidelines. He featured more times than any of his teammates for the Spurs Under 18 side in 2019/20, having made his competitive debut for Spurs at that level during the previous season. He would also feature on a good number of occasions for the then Spurs Under 23 side, over the next two seasons, before leaving the club to join West London club QPR, last January, on a permanent transfer. Having been at Spurs for so long, similar to Dilan Markanday, it would have been a very difficult decision for the Maidstone born footballer to leave the club. Rafferty is a versatile midfield player, who can play in central midfield, as a CAM or out wide on the flanks. A player who plays the game with a real desire to make the difference in matches, the 20 year old is a tremendous athlete, whose skill, determination and positivity on the ball, makes him a real joy to watch.

Rafferty is very good at linking the play, taking up good goalscoring positions, and at scoring and creating goals. He has in my opinion and from the games that I have seen him play for QPR’s B team, in the past year, really flourished. Doing well in matches that he played for the QPR B team in during the second half of last season. The former Spurs man scored two competitive goals for the B team last season, with both of them coming in a dramatic 3-2 win over Wigan Athletic, late on in that season. However, he has contributed far more than just his goals during his time at QPR so far, and the player who made his first team debut for them last pre-season in a friendly with Uxbridge, has already scored four goals for the QPR B team this season. And as I said, from the games that I have seen Rafferty involved in this season, it is his all-round play and ability to be decisive and always look to make that forward pass or take players on, which has made him really standout this season.

Rafferty also has an excellent low centre of gravity and a real amount of pace, and he never stops running. This season I have seen him have excellent games against the likes of Cardiff City, Brighton & Hove Albion and Colchester United’s Under 21 sides. That 2018/19 Spurs Academy intake were such a tremendously talented group of players, and Rafferty is just as good and has just as much potential as anyone in that group has, in my opinion. And I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him get a loan move at some point in 2023, or even feature for the QPR first team, as he has really impressed for the B team this season. On Friday night I will hopefully be watching Rafferty play for the QPR B team, as they take on AFC Bournemouth in an Under 21 Premier League Cup game.

Looking at how former Spurs Academy player Dilan Markanday is getting on, over a year since leaving the club:

Highly skilful and creative winger Dilan Markanday left Spurs just over one year ago. A very highly rated young Academy prospect, Dilan left Spurs not that long after making his sole first team appearance for them, in a UEFA Europa Conference League group-stage fixture with Vitesse Arnhem. He left to join Championship side Blackburn Rovers, on a three and a half year contract. For someone who has watched Dilan progress through the Academy ranks at Spurs during recent years, I was very sad to see Dilan leave Spurs, a club that obviously means a lot to the Barnet born professional footballer, and it is a club that he has supported for many years. The youngest of all his age group, since joining Spurs as a first year scholar in the summer of 2017, Dilan featured a lot for the Spurs Under 18 side in 2017/18, came on really well under the tutelage of then head-coach Matt Wells, the following season, before spending a number of seasons with the then Spurs Under 23 side. Always improving his game, Dilan bulked up physically, becoming stronger with and without the ball, around the time of the 2020/21 season. And towards the end of that season and going into the following 2021/22 season, he was unplayable for the Spurs Under 23 side, and he was without doubt their most important player, up until leaving the club.

The now 21 year old’s move to Blackburn Rovers would probably have surprised quite a few people, in particular Spurs supporters. With his pace (he has got quicker and quicker over the years), outstanding dribbling ability, agility and creative ability on the ball, as well as a real understanding of the game, Markanday’s talents would long have attracted the interest off of other top clubs. His decision to join Blackburn Rovers however, cannot have been an easy one for the former Spurs man. Soon after joining them, Dilan made his competitive debut for Blackburn, as a substitute in a Championship fixture with Hull City. In that game he picked up a serious hamstring injury which kept him out for most of the second half of the 2021/22 season. He returned for former manager Tony Mowbray’s side in the final game of that season, in a league fixture against Birmingham City. It would have obviously been a long journey to recovery and full match sharpness for Dilan, and after featuring for the Blackburn Rovers first team again, quite a lot last pre-season, Dilan has had to be patient for his chances with the first team.

From four Carabao Cup appearances for the Lancashire club this season, Dilan has scored two goals for the first team, making a really positive impression in those games, as well as a real desire to work hard for the team. In addition to his appearances in that competition, he has made one appearance for Blackburn in the FA Cup, in a 1-0 third round win away to Norwich City. And he played his own important part in the build-up to forward Jack Vale’s goal in that game. One appearance in the Championship this season, as a substitute in a fixture with Rotherham, which Blackburn disappointing lost 4-0, saw Dilan come away from that game receiving praise from fans for his performance. The former Spurs player has also featured for the Blackburn Rovers Under 21 side, and has unsurprisingly excelled for them at that level. Getting injured at such an important and early stage in his time at his new club, must have been very difficult. But from the games that he has played for the Blackburn first team this season, he has shown that wonderful determination, and desire to always be positive and creative on the ball, as well as working so hard off it. 

A player who I very much believe can not only play at the highest level, but also excel at the highest level in the future. Dilan Markanday is a real prospect in the game, and having followed Blackburn’s games very closely this season, I reckon that as they look to earn a play-off spot during the second part of the season, that Dilan will play, hopefully a big and prominent part in helping Blackburn in their quest to achieve that goal. Dilan is more than capable of making a real difference on the pitch, during a long second half of the footballing season, in England’s second tier.