My piece on Spurs’ direct and very reliable Academy winger Romaine Mundle:

Romaine Mundle enjoyed a very good season in 2020/21 for Spurs’ Under 18 side. The 18 year old winger who signed scholarship forms with Spurs in the summer of 2019, made his competitive Under 18 debut for Spurs as a substitute against Norwich City in 2019. The Edmonton born footballer who recently signed a new contract with Spurs until 2022, would make 12 Under 18 Premier League South appearances in 2019/20, scoring one goal and registering three assists over the course of that season. However, during the following 2020/21 season Mundle became a really important member of Matt Taylor’s Spurs Under 18 side, making 24 competitive appearances, scoring three goals and registering eight assists. Romaine also featured in competitive competition for the Spurs Under 23 side on three occasions, registering one assist from those three matches. Capable of operating as a winger on either flank, Mundle can also play as a CAM or as a central midfielder. A really creative player who is quick and direct with the ball out on the flanks, the now first year pro who featured for the Spurs first team against Leyton Orient this pre-season, is so reliable on the ball and he rarely loses possession. A player who takes up intelligent forward positions both out wide and in the oppositions penalty area, he is a good passer of the ball and I have always been impressed with his crosses into the box.

A very technical footballer who is really skilful on the ball, the player who has been at Spurs for a long time tracks back and helps out the full-back well also, and he is a real team player. He is capable of beating players for skill alone, and his ability to pick a pass and get a really good amount of assists has made him a really important player for the Spurs Under 18 side over the last couple of seasons. The fact that he has already made his first team debut for Spurs is a really good sign, and it shows how far that Romaine has come and how well that he has done at Under 18 level during his two years of scholarship. I look forward to hopefully seeing Romaine establish himself in the Under 23 side this season, and I wish him all the very best of luck for the season.

My piece on Spurs’ skilful and versatile Academy midfielder Yago Santiago:

A technical midfield player who is also versatile, Yago Santiago (18) signed for Spurs during the 2019/20 season from Spanish side RC Celta de Vigo. Santiago made his competitive Under 18 debut for Spurs as a substitute against Southampton in a league game, which Spurs won 2-0 in the September of 2019. Santiago made a further nine league appearances for Spurs at Under 18 level that season (most of his appearances came as a substitute, and he scored one goal). However, during the following 2020/21 season the footballer from Vigo in Spain became an important player for Matt Taylor’s Under 18 side, making 23 competitive appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side. Yago scored three goals and registered five assists for the Spurs Under 18 side last season, and he also made his competitive debut for Wayne Burnett’s Spurs Under 23 side during the same season. Santiago has started the current 2021/22 season with Spurs’ Under 23 side, and the first year pro will now be with Wayne Burnett’s side on a full-time basis. Yago played and started the Under 23’s first two pre-season friendlies against Ramsgate FC and Enfield Town respectively, and he impressed in both of those matches. So what type of player is Yago? Well he is a versatile player who is capable of playing as a four or eight in central midfield, as a CAM or as a winger on either flank. However, after centre-forward Kion Etete had to be substituted in the friendly against Ramsgate, Santiago moved up top.

A midfield player with great balance, in the central areas of the pitch Yago is so slick on the ball and he is a midfield technician who is more than capable of making things happen and creating chances. A good passer of the ball and a player who is quick on his feet, Santiago is an intelligent player who can at times make things look effortless. As a CAM Santiago makes good forward runs off the ball and he also links the play well from that role. He likes to pass the ball forward (he holds onto the ball well) and he is a forward thinking midfield player who is a skilful and tricky player, but he is also a hard worker who helps out the team well. I have been most impressed with Yago whenever I have seen him play out wide, as with his fine pace and skill on the ball he can cause problems for full-backs and also create good chances from wide positions. From that position last season Yago got a good amount of goals and assists, and he showed his potency going forward in an FA Youth Cup fourth round tie against AFC Wimbledon in 2020/21. Playing out on the left flank he influenced the game well and showed some good bursts of pace down the left side of the pitch, while also showing nice skill on the ball. In another Under 18 game against Southampton during the previous 2019/20 season Santiago scored his first goal for the Under 18 side to cap off a fine individual performance in the CAM role, where he showed good composure and skill on the ball and he also linked the play really well.

In the recent pre-season win over Ramsgate Yago Santiago started the match out on the right flank, before later moving up top to play as a centre-forward. Considering that he is not a striker I thought that he did well in that role, and he impressed with his movement off the ball. I look forward to hopefully seeing Yago play Under 23 football on a regular basis this season and I wish him all the very best of luck for 2021/22.

A short profile on every Spurs Academy goalkeeper (in the Spurs Under 23 side):

I thought that I’d write a little piece where I would do a profile on every Spurs goalkeeper who is part of the Spurs Under 23 squad. In the following piece I have tried to describe what the Spurs Under 23’s goalkeepers’ greatest attributes are, and also what their style of play as a goalkeeper is. We have some very promising young goalkeepers in the Academy setup at Spurs, and whilst I haven’t included Under 18’s goalkeepers Aaron Maguire, Adam Hayton and Luca Gunter (as I have hardly seen them play), they too are very promising goalkeepers that I’m sure Spurs fans will be hearing a lot more about over the coming seasons.

Alfie Whiteman: Although not technically part of the Spurs Under 23 squad, Alfie Whiteman is still under 23. The Londoner who is 22 and who has already made his competitive debut for Spurs’ first team (last season) is a former England youth international who has been at Spurs for many years. Part of the Spurs Academy age group which included Marcus Edwards, Japhet Tanganga and Samuel Shashoua, Alfie Whiteman was very good at Under 18 level for Spurs and he got a good number of games for the club at that level. At times stepping up to play for the Spurs Under 23 side when he was still an Academy scholar, Alfie first made a Spurs first team squad (made the bench for the first team) for the first time during the 2015/16 season. A goalkeeper with very good positioning and good reflexes, Alfie Whiteman has a good goal kick, is reliable and is also quite good at saving penalties. Often part of Spurs’ first team squads over the course of recent seasons, the goalkeeper hasn’t had a good run of games for the Under 23 side since the 2017/18 season, when him and Brandon Austin were the two main goalkeepers for the Under 23’s. Alfie has only featured on a small number of occasions for the Under 23 side in the seasons since then, and he has mainly been with the first team, where he has more often than not trained with them on a daily basis. It will be interesting to see whether the promising and clearly highly rated goalkeeper goes out on his first loan move this season, or whether he remains with the Spurs first team squad for another season.

Brandon Austin: An excellent young goalkeeper who is currently on loan at American MLS side Orlando City SC, Brandon Austin (22) was part of the same Spurs Academy age group as the previously mentioned Alfie Whiteman. The goalkeeper from Hemel Hempstead has been a regular at Academy level for Spurs since joining the Academy full-time in the summer of 2015. The former Chelsea Academy player was mainly the second choice goalkeeper to Alfie Whiteman in the Under 18 side during the 2015/16 season, but during the following season he got a lot more minutes for the Under 18 side. A regular and very important player for our Under 23 side during the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons, Austin went out on his first loan move to Danish side Viborg FF (they played in the second division at the time), halfway into the 2019/20 season, and he became their first choice goalkeeper, putting in a series of impressive performances during the second half of their season. Returning to Spurs for the following 2020/21 season, the goalkeeper who has been called up to the England Under 21 side on occasions over the past few years would go onto make eight competitive appearances for Spurs’ Under 23 side last season. He joined MLS side Orlando City SC in early 2021, and although he has played five matches for them in the MLS during the current season, he is currently their second choice goalkeeper. Austin has done well when he has played for them so far and I’m hoping that he’ll get more opportunities to impress before the end of the MLS season.

Austin is a terrific shot stopper who has great reflexes, is very quick on his feet, maintains good positioning throughout matches and also commands his box very well. Really good in my opinion at coming out to catch the ball from corner kicks and crosses, the Spurs man has also improved on his distribution during recent seasons. A very vocal goalkeeper on the pitch, Brandon talks his defence through matches really well. I definitely see him as somebody who has the potential to become a future Spurs first choice goalkeeper at some point in the future, as in my opinion Brandon has all of the important attributes needed to succeed.

Joshua Oluwayemi: London born goalkeeper Joshua Oluwayemi was recently called up to the Nigeria senior national team for an international friendly against Mexico (he was unused substitute), after impressing for Spurs’ Under 23 side during the 2020/21 season. The 20 year old is not the tallest of goalkeepers but is still very commanding inside his penalty area. Oluwayemi signed scholarship forms with Spurs for the 2017/18 season, but during that campaign he only played a handful of games. During the following 2018/19 season Joshua established himself as an important player for the Spurs Under 18 side, and he made a really good number of appearances for them that season. During the 2019/20 season Oluwayemi made five Premier League 2 appearances for the Spurs Under 23 side, but for the start of the following 2020/21 season he joined National League side Maidenhead United on loan. Oluwayemi made two competitive appearances for Maidenhead United before returning to Spurs and going on to make 12 appearances for Wayne Burnett’s Spurs Under 23 side, and he impressed in the games that I saw him play. A goalkeeper who is alert, has really good reactions, commands his box well and is also somewhat of an expert at saving penalties. Joshua made the bench for the Spurs first team against Colchester United in a pre-season friendly earlier in the week, and it will be very interesting to see whether or not he goes out on another loan this season. Joshua is another very promising Spurs Academy goalkeeper.

Kacper Kurylowicz: A former Poland youth international who was born in Luton but brought up in Milton Keynes. Kacper Kurylowicz is a goalkeeper who I am a big fan of, and now in his second year full-time with the Spurs Under 23 side Kurylowicz will be hoping to get more game time for the Under 23 side this season. The 19 year old only made three appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side during his first season of scholarship at Spurs. Kurylowicz then made 11 Under 18 Premier League South appearances during the following 2019/20, doing well in all of those games in my opinion. During the 2020/21 season Kacper made two competitive appearances for the Spurs Under 23 side, in what was his first season full-time with the Under 23 squad. Kurylowicz is a goalkeeper who is quick out of his penalty area and at sweeping up outside of his box, he is a really good shot stopper and has always impressed me with his distribution. Kacper is also good at dealing with crosses and set-pieces, but most of all he is a leader, and a goalkeeper whose organisation skills and encouragement of his defence are top quality attributes of his. In addition Kurylowicz is very good in one on one situations, and he often makes saves from those situations. I’m really hoping that Kacper gets a really good run of games for the Under 23 side during the 2021/22 season, as I think that he has a promising future in the game and is a goalkeeper that Spurs fans will hopefully be hearing more about over the coming seasons.

Thimothée Lo-Tutala: Paris born former Brentford youth goalkeeper Thimothée Lo-Tutala was often the captain of Spurs’ Under 18 side last season (2020/21). Lo-Tutala made 17 competitive appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side last season, plus one appearance for the Spurs Under 23 side. A tall goalkeeper who has good distribution, is commanding from crosses and who reads the game well from inside his penalty area, Thimothée also has very good reflexes. After competing for a place in the Spurs Under 18 side with Kacper Kurylowicz during the 2019/20 season, Lo-Tutala improved even more last season as he became the first choice goalkeeper for the Under 18 side. And the fact that the now first year pro has already made his competitive Under 23 debut for Spurs, as well as featuring in two friendlies for them in pre-season (he impressed in the friendly game against Ramsgate) will help Thimothée for this season when he’ll be with the Under 23 side on a full-time basis.

Isak Solberg: Norway Under 18 international Isak Solberg is a very tall goalkeeper who is a good shot stopper, and who is also not afraid to be vocal on the pitch. Unfortunately I can’t really elaborate further on what type of goalkeeper Isak is, as he has only played one competitive game for Spurs (at Under 18 level) in two seasons. Solberg will be a part of the Spurs Under 23 side on a full-time basis this season.

My piece on versatile and tenacious Spurs Academy player Kallum Cesay:

Kallum Cesay (18) might not have been a Spurs Academy player that Spurs fans were too familiar with before our first team took on Leyton Orient in a pre-season friendly last Saturday. However, the Newham born first year pro has been an important player and regular for Spurs’ Under 18 side over the course of the last two seasons. Previously with local club West Ham United, Kallum Cesay signed scholarship forms with Spurs for the start of the 2019/20 season. During his first season full-time at Spurs, the defender who primarily plays as a right-back (he can also play at left-back and in central midfield) made 11 league appearances for Spurs at Under 18 level (he also featured in a pre-season friendly for the Under 23’s against Enfield Town), and he also featured in the FA Youth Cup and Premier League Cup for Spurs at Under 18 level during the same season. Impressing throughout that season at both right-back and in central midfield (he scored two league goals that season), Cesay made 18 competitive appearances (he scored  four goals and registered four assists) during the following 2020/21 season for Matt Taylor’s Under 18 side. Cesay established himself as an important member of the side, and he also made his competitive debut for Spurs’ Under 23 side in a 3-0 Premier League 2 win over Manchester United at Hotspur Way that same season. Cesay has since started pre-season of the 2021/22 season with the first team. Making his debut (he started the game) for them against Leyton Orient last Saturday, Cesay also came off the bench to feature against Colchester United in Spurs’ most recent pre-season friendly.

As I said before, Kallum Cesay is primarily a right-back, but he is also capable of playing on the opposite flank at left-back, and as a central midfielder. The defender is an adaptable player, who is effective at both ends of the pitch. He can be a forward thinking right-back, as he likes to get forward and often go on overlapping runs down the right flank and into the oppositions box, where he tries to be available to get to any rebounds. And he is a defender who has a real eye for goal (his goalscoring and assist record at Under 18 level speaks for itself), owing to his fine positioning in forward areas, and Kallum is also a good striker of the ball. A tall player who has a decent amount of pace, and who also gets up and down the flank really well, Kallum Cesay has great stamina. Good at linking up with the winger in front of him, Cesay is an intelligent player who can pass the ball well, but he can also stay deep in matches, as I have seen him do this on numerous occasions. Strong in the challenge and not afraid to make sliding challenges, the 18 year old is difficult to get past and can give opposition wingers difficult games. Whilst he is a steady and adaptable defender, it’s worth noting that Cesay can also play in central midfield (often as a four) where he is good at carrying the ball, bringing it forward and at helping to protect the back four, whilst also breaking up the play in the central areas of the pitch. Good on the ball but tenacious out of possession, Kallum is a player that Spurs fans should keep an eye on over the next couple of seasons.

During an Under 18 Premier League South game against Southampton back in the 2019/20 season Cesay demonstrated all of his abilities at right-back, in what was a really fine individual performance. He really grew into that match, was solid in defence, got up and down the right-flank really well, scored a good goal from a tight angle and made some excellent forward runs off the ball. In another Under 18 league game against Norwich City during the same season, Kallum stayed really deep and rarely got forward, really showing the defensive side of his game and showing how difficult he was to get beyond down Norwich’s left side of the pitch. During the Leyton Orient friendly last Saturday Kallum impressed by creating a chance after taking an excellent first touch and going on a burst forward. I really look forward to hopefully seeing Kallum become a regular for Wayne Burnett’s Under 23 side this season, and I wish him all the very best of luck for the new season.

My piece on Spurs’ complete Academy centre-half Marqes Muir:

Lambeth born defender Marqes Muir (18) has been part of Spurs’ Academy setup since a young age, and the centre-half has been a player who has made big strides since joining the Academy full-time in the summer of 2019. Muir first made a Spurs Under 18 squad in a competitive game back in the April of the 2018/19 season as a schoolboy footballer, when he made the bench against Aston Villa in a league game (he didn’t play in that game). Signing scholarship forms with Spurs in the summer of 2019, Marqes Muir made his competitive Under 18 debut for Spurs in a 4-0 opening day league defeat to a very talented Fulham side at the start of the 2019/20 season. During that season which ended early Marqes made over 15 competitive appearances for Matt Taylor’s side, and I felt that he improved by each game. Muir also featured for the Under 23’s in a pre-season friendly against Enfield Town just before the season started. During the 2020/21 season Marqes made 24 competitive appearances (all starts) for the Spurs Under 18 side, captaining them on a good number of occasions, and he also made two competitive appearances for the Spurs Under 23 side (his first two competitive appearances for them). An important player for Matt Taylor’s Under 18 side last season as a second year scholar, Muir has started this pre-season with Spurs’ Under 23 side, now that he is a first year pro with the club. He played the Under 23’s opening pre-season friendly against Ramsgate FC last Saturday, and also our most recent one against Enfield Town, playing well in both at RCB.

So what type of defender is Marqes Muir? Well he is mainly a centre-half, who plays on the right hand side of defence. Although he is also capable of playing at right-back, a position that I have been impressed with him playing at. However, as a centre-half, Marqes is one of the best Academy centre-halves that I have ever seen at bringing the ball out from the back. He brings it out with such ease and skill, something which helps him to play right-back so effectively. A leader in defence, Muir is in my opinion a complete centre-half, in the sense that I don’t think that there are any real faults to his game. He is an alert centre-half who is quick, has a great positional sense, has very good distribution and is courageous when defending. Really good at making blocks, owing to his fine positioning, the Londoner has so many very good and important attributes. A player that I really enjoy watching defend, Marqes is a good one on one defender whose strength and ability not to get bullied by defenders makes him a real defensive force. However, Marqes also has good reactions, and he is a commanding player. Dominant in the air and calm under pressure, Muir is good at making well timed interceptions and challenges (he is intelligent and only slides in if he has too), and also at stepping in front of forwards, being assertive and winning the ball in important areas of the pitch. A classy defender who is so good on the ball, I have been really impressed with his ability on the ball ever since I first saw him play.

There are some games that Marqes has played in for Spurs during recent seasons, that I would just like to focus in on. A league game against Fulham’s Under 18 side at home during the 2019/20 season saw Marqes play at right-back, where he defended against Fulham winger Imani Lanquedoc. Muir totally neutralised the threat that the Fulham player posed, and he also stayed tight to the Fulham player, kept really good positioning and also defended solidly throughout the entirety of the match. In another game during the same season and this time playing at RCB, Marqes Muir had to defend against Norwich City’s then Under 18 centre-forward Tyrese Omotoye, and again Muir put in a very good defensive performance, as he teamed up with former Spurs player Aaron Skinner at centre-half. During that game Marqes made countless blocks, interceptions and clearances, and he was also very strong on the ball, as he put in a very intelligent defensive performance. During the two Under 23 pre-season friendlies played so far this summer Marqes has looked very solid. Good at bringing the ball out from the back in both games against Ramsgate FC and Enfield Town, Muir made a fine block in the Enfield game and also cut out a promising attack for the home side. And he put in another strong defensive performance in the game against Ramsgate. I’m really looking forward to seeing Marqes hopefully get a really good amount of games for the Under 23 side this season. And I wish him all the very best of luck for the new season and congratulate him on two fine years of scholarship at Spurs.

My piece on Spurs’ skilful and highly promising midfielder Alfie Devine:

It was not long before the first lockdown when I had first seen Alfie Devine (16) play live. Although it wasn’t for too long (around half an hour) Devine came on with half an hour to go against non-League side Croydon FC in the third round of the 2019/20 seasons FA Youth Cup for Wigan Athletic’s Under 18 side, up in Wigan. I had travelled up there on the day of the game to see who Spurs’ Under 18 side would face in the fourth round of the competition, and I was also intrigued to see Wigan’s very talented Under 18 side play. That Wigan side contained Sean McGurk (now of Leeds United) who was also excellent in the following round against Spurs, and a player who I was hoping that we would sign. However, Warrington born midfielder Alfie Devine came on and scored a well taken headed goal after connecting with a cross from the left, following a good run into the Croydon box. What I really noticed about Devine during that 8-1 win to Wigan was the passion and desire with which he showed on the pitch, and also his commitment to the game, and to his team. Devine came on late on in the game against Spurs, which Wigan (they had been unbeaten for a long period of time) comfortably won 2-0. I do remember Devine stopping a late attack from Spurs well during his brief time on the pitch. The then 15 year old player who was a regular and important player for Wigan’s Under 18 side during the 2019/20 season, and who also impressed later on in the FA Youth Cup in a game against Manchester United, would join Spurs from Wigan for the start of the following 2020/21 season. 

Not long after turning 16 in the August of 2020 he made his first team debut for Spurs’ first team in a pre-season friendly win over Ipswich Town as a substitute, before the start of the competitive season (potentially Spurs’ youngest ever player to feature in a first team friendly). He made an additional appearance against Reading in another friendly at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium that summer. Devine started the first competitive game for the Spurs Under 18 side (2020/21), the following month, and by all accounts he was excellent in central midfield, as Spurs won the game 4-1. During last season Alfie Devine made an additional 11 competitive appearances for Spurs’ Under 18 side, scoring two goals and registering two assists. Devine also stepped up to make 12 competitive appearances for Wayne Burnett’s Spurs Under 23 side, scoring two goals and registering one assist. His fine form for both the Under 18’s and 23’s was rewarded by then Spurs manager José Mourinho, who gave Devine his competitive first team debut (youngest ever player and goalscorer for Spurs’ first team as a substitute against non-League side Marine), in the third round of that seasons FA Cup. Devine scored a well taken goal against Marine, and he showed great confidence on the ball during his 45 minutes on the pitch, and was always looking to receive it in good areas. The young midfielder also made the bench on two other occasions for Spurs’ first team in competitive games (although he didn’t feature in either of those games). Alfie is the son of talented former St Helens Rugby League player Sean Devine, who played as a half-back for St Helens, during his time at the club.

So what type of player is Alfie Devine? Well the England youth international is mainly a midfield player, who can play as a four, eight and as a CAM. Devine is also capable of playing out wide (mainly on the left), although last season for Spurs he played in a variety of positions at Under 18 and 23 level. For England at Under 16 level the midfielder played as the deepest of a midfield two, where he is capable of spraying the ball around the park from deep, and also pushing forward at times. Devine is a very tough player who is strong in the challenge and tenacious off the ball, but as a deep-lying midfield player he is very capable of patrolling that area of the pitch well, and also at keeping the ball moving in the central areas. The technical midfield player can also play a far more advanced midfield role, which allows him to influence the game more in the final third. A highly intelligent player who has great reactions on the pitch, Devine takes up clever forward positions, and he times his forwards runs into the oppositions box very well. Sharp and quick on the ball, the former Wigan Athletic player who also spent time in Liverpool’s Academy setup, has demonstrated in games his ability to score goals from a variety of positions. Good in the air and with a powerful shot at his disposal, Alfie Devine also registers a good amount of assists. With fine vision for a forward pass, I’ve noticed in games that he has played in that the Englishman likes to try and play lofted balls over the top of defences, to try and put the centre-forward through on goal.

Devine’s passing ability is in my opinion of his greatest attributes, and the weight and accuracy of his forward passes are consistently very good. He is just so confident on the ball and he seems to believe a lot in his own ability on the pitch, which will help him a lot as he continues to progress at Spurs. Devine is also very skilful on the ball, and in the games that I have watched him play he has always looked to take on and beat players for skill, and he is an agile player as well. Just as impressive off the ball, Alfie Devine is a strong and physical player who can more than hold his own in situations. He works incredibly hard off the ball and presses players to great effect, whilst also not being at all afraid to make forceful sliding challenges (he has a good amount of aggression to his game, and he plays the game with real bite). A mature player for his age, Alfie put in some of his best performances from games that I saw him play in last season, in two particular matches. The first one against Chelsea Under 18’s in a league game, saw him dictate the match from the CAM role for large periods of his 62 minutes on the pitch. Aggressive and assertive, and showing his usual great skill on the ball, Devine got an assist for one of Spurs’ goals in the second half, after making a really clever pass with the outside of his boot from a wide position to force an error from a Chelsea defender. He took up wide positions a fair bit in that game, demanded the ball in good positions and also worked very well off the ball.

In the second game which I will briefly write about, Devine also played as a CAM, with this game an Under 23 game against Derby County, up in Loughborough. Spurs were reduced to ten men early on in that game, but Devine really stepped up and put in a very mature performance. He worked really hard for the team, tried to influence the game by making clever forward passes, and also came close to scoring after going on a good forward run with the ball. However, it was his sheer determination to want the ball, try and create and also show tenacity when tracking back in the midfield areas of the pitch, which made him by far Spurs’ most influential player. Probably still too young to go out on loan this season, Devine featured off the bench for Spurs’ first team in a pre-season friendly against Leyton Orient last Saturday, and he’ll be hoping to get plenty more opportunities during pre-season. And with the first team playing in the UEFA Europa Conference League this season, the very promising young player will most certainly be hoping to get a good amount of game time in that competition. I think it goes without saying that Alfie has a big future in the game, and he’s at a great club to continue developing his game. He should be very proud of what he has achieved in his short career so far, and I for one am really looking forward to seeing the former Wigan player play a lot more this season, after having a big influence on the Under 18’s and 23’s last campaign. 

Six Spurs Academy players that I’m hoping to see feature for the first team during this pre-season:

With the first pre-season match for the Spurs first team (against Leyton Orient) just 12 days away, I thought that I would write a little piece on six Spurs Academy players that I’m personally hoping will feature for Spurs’ first team in pre-season. Nuno Espíritio Santo’s side are so far scheduled to play four pre-season friendlies, starting with a friendly game with Leyton Orient to compete for the JE3 Foundation Trophy on the 17th of July. We later face MK Dons in a friendly, before taking on Chelsea and Arsenal in The Mind Series, in August. So that’s four pre-season matches which could well mean a good number of opportunities for Spurs Academy players and Academy graduates to feature in. Below are just six players that I am personally hoping might feature in those friendly games, but obviously there are a good number of other players who I do believe will most probably play for the first team in pre-season, and that I would also like to see play. Such as Dane Scarlett, Alfie Whiteman, Nile John, Dennis Cirkin and Alfie Devine. However, the six players that I have listed are just some of the players that I personally would really like to see (some are yet to play for the first team) play for Spurs’ first team, but of course I would be delighted to see other Spurs Academy players and graduates also play for Spurs in those four friendly matches.

The players:

Jubril Okedina: Versatile 20 year old defender Jubril Okedina enjoyed a fine 2020/21 season. He spent the first half of the season with our Under 23 side, where he captained the side on eight occasions. Okedina spent the second half of the season out on loan with a very successful Cambridge United side, and he impressed for them during his 15 competitive appearances, and most of his appearances came at RCB. A good reader of the game who is also good in the air and in the challenge, the Londoner is more than capable of playing as a right-back and also as a centre-half. Jubril missed most of his first season full-time at Spurs’ Academy because of injury (he made only two appearances in 2017/18), but he would end up becoming an important player for the Spurs Under 18 side during the following 2018/19 season. A defender who has good pace and who is good at getting up and down the right flank when playing at right-back, Okedina is good on the ball and at bringing it out from the back. However, he also has good passing ability, and he showed on loan at Cambridge United that he wasn’t afraid to make long and ambitious forward passes from deep. A player who has got and better and better in my opinion over the last couple of seasons, Okedina actually made the bench for Spurs’ senior team under former manager José Mourinho, in a pre-season friendly against Watford last year. I’m a big fan of Okedina’s style of play and the way in how he defends in games, and also how cool and composed he is under pressure, and I certainly think that he would do well if given a chance with the first team this pre-season.

TJ Eyoma: After making a very impressive total of 52 competitive appearances with League One side Lincoln City last season, defender TJ Eyoma will have gained a lot of valuable experience from playing regular first team football. The London born player is an assertive centre-half who can also play as a right-back, and Eyoma showed this throughout the 2020/21 season. He has made well over 50 competitive appearances for Spurs’ Under 23 side since making debut for them during the 2016/17 season, and the 21 year old has already made his competitive first team debut for the club (in 2018/19). TJ also got a good amount of game time during the 2018/19 pre-season and he particularly impressed in a friendly against AC Milan. Very good on the ball and with his distribution, Eyoma brings the ball out from the back really well, but he also defends well inside the penalty area and is dominant in the air. However, he doesn’t make sliding challenges as much as other defenders, as he seems to prefer to make standing challenges. He is also impressive at right-back and has shown over the years that he isn’t afraid to get forward to join the forward players, while showing good skill on the ball. Eyoma is also very good at making important blocks. I would personally really like to see TJ get a good amount of minutes in pre-season, especially as he has just returned from a successful loan at Lincoln City. I am confident that he would certainly do well at Championship level next season on loan, but it would be great to see TJ play for Spurs again during pre-season.

Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: Elegant and very versatile defender Brooklyn Lyons-Foster can play as a right-back, RCB, LCB, left-back, as a four and as an eight in midfield. The 20 year old from north London has been a regular for the Spurs Under 23 side over the last couple of seasons, and he even made his debut for them as a 16 year old back in 2017. A tall defender who has great technical ability, Lyons-Foster was outstanding during his first year of scholarship at Spurs in 2017/18, and he has progressed well since then. A former England Under 17 international who played for his country alongside the likes of Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden and Callum Hudson-Odoi, Brooklyn is a real footballing centre-half. He is quick, very good on the ball, has fine distribution, takes responsibility in situations, and from what I’ve seen he is a good leader. Lyons-Foster is also very capable of reading the game to great effect, and also at making last ditch blocks and challenges. Personally speaking I reckon that he is physically ready to play men’s football on a regular basis, and what will help as well is the fact that he can play in so many different positions. A decisive defender who likes to join the attack in situations, the former Watford schoolboy player has impressed me whenever he has played as a number four in recent years, with his assertiveness in that role and passing ability making him standout when playing that role. Last season he made 21 competitive appearances for Spurs’ Under 23 side and was also directly involved in four goals (two goals and two assists). Lyons-Foster was actually a part of Mauricio Pochettino’s 2019/20  pre-season squad that traveled to Asia, although he didn’t get any minutes.

I would really like to see Brooklyn get some game time in pre-season to really show fans what he’s about, and what type of defender he is.

Oliver Skipp: Having already made 23 competitive first team appearances for Spurs, midfielder Oliver Skipp certainly won’t be a new name to Spurs fans. The Welwyn Garden City born player was excellent at 2020/21 Championship champions Norwich City last season, featuring in all but one Championship game for them. Skipp is a tigerish defensive midfield player, but apart from his defensive duties which he does so well, he can also offer a lot going forward. The 20 year old who turns 21 in September made a really good impression on the Norwich side last season, and the player who constantly would play above his age group for Spurs at Academy level has a tremendous footballing brain. Skipp, as many fans will know is great at breaking up play in the central areas of the pitch, and also at keeping things moving. However, Oliver is also very good at receiving the ball in the middle of the pitch and then driving forward with the ball at pace. A tireless but skilful midfielder, Skipp has incredible stamina, but he is also a very mature player, who likes to lead on the pitch. He is constantly pointing things out on the pitch and giving advice to his teammates. Without doubt one of the best players that I have ever seen play at Academy level in England, now could well be the time when Skipp takes that next step up and starts to get regular football for Spurs. This could also allow Pierre-Emile Højbjerg to get rest next season, as I believe that Skipp would do a fine job in Premier League games, as he has already shown on occasions. However, for this pre-season and in particular the friendly games against Chelsea and Arsenal, it would be great to see Skipp get good minutes in both games.

Elliot Thorpe: Creative midfielder Elliot Thorpe (20) can play either as a four, an eight or as a CAM. A tenacious midfield player, who didn’t play an awful lot of competitive football at Under 18 level for Spurs, after a fine season with Spurs’ Under 23 side in 2020/21 Thorpe earned his first call up to the Wales Under 21 side, at the end of that season. Scoring two goals last season from 18 competitive appearances (both goals game in a 4-1 home win over Liverpool) the Hinchingbrooke born player has looked really good whenever I have seen him over the course of the last two seasons. Constantly looking to receive the ball into his feet, the technical midfielder likes to accelerate forward with the ball into promising forward positions. He has a good weight of pass, makes good forward runs off the ball and can also produce moments of magic in the final third, but he is also a very hardworking player who likes to get stuck in and make challenges. Formerly of Cambridge United, Thorpe is definitely a player that I would really like to see play for the first team in pre-season, and he has yet to play for the first team. I think that Thorpe wouldn’t look out of place playing for Spurs’ first team in pre-season, as he is a very technical player. I would be intrigued to see him get the chance to play for them as he is a player who I rate very highly.

Troy Parrott: Republic of Ireland international Troy Parrott (19) had some difficult times out on loan last season. But there is no doubting the centre-forwards’ obvious talent, and he showed this in an end of season friendly against Andorra for the Republic of Ireland, when he changed the game by scoring two well taken goals. Parrott was out on loan at Millwall last season, where after a promising pre-season injuries disrupted his progress at the Championship side. He later went out on loan to League One side Ipswich Town, where he spent the second half of the season. He scored two goals from 18 competitive appearances for Ipswich, and he impressed with his fine runs off the ball and desire and hunger to try and impact games. Parrott was a very prolific centre-forward for Spurs at Academy level, and the player who has already made four competitive appearances for Spurs’ first team did impress in the 2019/20 pre-season. With Spurs playing in the Europa Conference League this season, a good pre-season for the talented and clinical striker could well mean that he gets plenty of game time in the cup competitions for the Spurs first team, unless he goes out on loan again. He has excellent movement off the ball and is a really good finisher, who also works incredibly hard to press opposition defenders.

My piece on Spurs’ promising young centre-forward Dane Scarlett: 

Centre-forward Dane Pharrell Scarlett enjoyed an excellent first season full-time at Spurs, during the 2020/21 season. Next season Scarlett will be a second year scholar, but during his first year of scholarship at the club he scored a phenomenal total of 25 goals from 27 competitive appearances (includes first team appearances) for Spurs at all levels. The Hillingdon born footballer also registered four assists. In the following short piece I will be writing about some of Dane’s best attributes as a player and also his style of play, as well as talking a bit about the last two seasons for Dane. Scarlett made his Spurs development side debut for a Spurs XI in a pre-season friendly against Enfield Town in the August of 2019. But he first made his competitive Under 18 debut for Spurs on the opening day of the 2019/20 season at Fulham’s Motspur Park training ground, against the west London club. The then schoolboy footballer started against a very good Fulham side on that day. Fulham saw a lot more of the ball than Spurs during that game, when he played almost as a second striker to Kion Etete, and although he didn’t get on the ball much in promising positions, he did work very hard off the ball. Scarlett featured in four more games for Spurs at competitive Under 18 level that season. He came very close to scoring in a league game against Norwich City, in what was a good cameo performance, before then scoring a good centre-forwards goal in the next game against Aston Villa. However, Scarlett unfortunately sustained a bad season ending injury early on in his next league game (after making a sliding challenge), which was against Chelsea in November 2019 (Scarlett also made the bench on one occasion for Spurs’ Under 19 side in the UEFA Youth League).

That injury would have been very difficult for the England youth international, but Dane came back for the 2020/21 season after impressing with the Spurs first team  in some pre-season friendlies. He scored two goals and registered two assists for Matt Taylor’s Spurs Under 18 side against West Ham United on the opening day of the Under 18 league season, and what followed in terms of goalscoring was nothing short of phenomenal. Of the standout individual moments from Dane during the season just gone, a 7-0 Under 18 league win over Southampton stands outs when Dane was involved in five goals (four goals and one assist). Also, his hat-trick against league runners up Crystal Palace would have been a memorable moment for the 17 year old, as would his first competitive goal for the Spurs Under 23 side, back in the December of 2020. However, Scarlett also made three competitive first team appearances for the Spurs first team during the 2020/21 season, registering one assist (he became the youngest player to assist in the competition since Kylian Mbappé). His goalscoring/assists record during the season just gone was almost on the levels of Reo Griffiths’ outstanding 2017/18 season, a season that Griffiths scored 34 competitive goals in. Obviously I haven’t seen as much of Dane at the same stage in his career as I saw of Troy Parrott during his first year of scholarship. However, I feel as if I have seen him enough to write a bit about his style of play. Dane Scarlett is a very good finisher of goals, but something I have been very impressed with has been how good he is in the air. Scoring a good number of goals with his head, his headers are often powerful ones with a nice accuracy to them. A commanding presence up front for the Spurs Under 18’s during the 2020/21 season, Dane seems to exude confidence in those games, but also for the Under 23 side he did cause problems for defenders. With a good example of this being in a Premier League 2 game against Chelsea last year.

During the Spurs Under 23 game game against Chelsea the centre-forward scored a really good and powerful header against Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech, after some good movement inside the Chelsea box. The centre-forward was playing out on the right flank as a winger, and his movement off the ball was really impressive, as was his desire to track back and help out the Spurs right-back during the game, and his defensive work during that game was very, very good. Scarlett is obviously a very good finisher, and he is a striker who will score a variety of different goals (he is good from distance also). But if opposition defenders make errors in and around the penalty area then the last thing they need is a centre-forward of Scarlett’s quality around, more than ready to find the back of the net, if given the chance. Apart from his aerial ability the Spurs Academy player who signed his first professional contract with the club last season, is a player who likes to try a variety of finishes (he is a very good finisher). Although he does like to finish with power and style, in my opinion it is actually Scarlett’s off the ball movement which is perhaps his greatest attribute as a player. Terrific at pressing defenders (whenever I have seen him play) and never giving them a moment to focus on the ball, his off the ball work reminds me of Troy Parrott’s, at the same stage in his career. He is so good at getting himself into good goalscoring positions, and he seems to almost ghost into fine positions from which he can score from. A physical player who is not afraid to battle for the ball, Dane takes responsibility in games and he is also a leader too. He is a confident player with good pace, and he showed this in first team games last season against Ludogorets Razgrad and Wolfsberger AC respectively. 

Dane has come back from a bad injury and performed remarkably well during the recent 2020/21 season, and whenever I have seen him I have been so impressed with his off the ball movement, and that desire to run the extra yard for his team. A player who has just had a very promising season, Scarlett has a very promising future in the game, and with Spurs in the inaugural UEFA Conference League next season, the 17 year old will surely get more first team appearances. The centre-forward should be very proud of all that he has achieved during the 2020/21 season, and I wish him all the very best of luck for next season.

My piece on Spurs Academy player Michael Craig:

In my latest Spurs Academy player article I will be focusing on central midfielder Michael Craig, the identical twin brother of Matthew Craig, who I wrote about recently. Barnet born footballer Michael Craig (capped by Scotland as high up as Under 17 level) made his debut for the Spurs Under 18 side as a schoolboy towards the end of the 2018/19 season. Michael came off the bench in a 2-0 league win over Reading, and he would also make an additional appearance for the Spurs Under 18 side, in a 4-0 league win over Fulham. The midfielder registered an assist in that game, and he impressed during his 22 minutes on the pitch. Craig would sign scholarship forms with Spurs for the start of the following 2019/20 season, and he even started for a Spurs XI in a pre-season friendly against Enfield Town, in the August of 2019. In that game Michael put in a really mature performance in central midfield, and he had a calming presence in the centre of the pitch, was tidy with the ball and also made some impressive and well weighted forward passes. A midfielder who can play either as a number four or eight, Craig actually started the season with Spurs’ Under 18 side by playing right-midfield, in a league game against Fulham. Michael started and completed the full 90 minutes of the next three competitive Under 18 matches, impressing in all three. However, shortly after a 4-0 league win against Swansea City in the late August of 2019, Michael sustained an injury which would rule him out for the rest of that 2019/20 season (he registered one assist from his four competitive appearances). Michael spent over a year out injured and he only returned to competitive games for Spurs during the September of last year, when he came on as a late substitute in a 2-0 home Under 18 league win over Arsenal.

Despite spending such a long time out injured, Michael Craig gradually established himself as a key player for Matt Taylor’s Spurs Under 18 side during the season just gone, getting a lot of game time for Spurs at that level. Michael made 20 competitive appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side in the 2020/21 season, contributing with five assists and one goal at that level. Michael also stepped up to play for the Spurs Under 23 side on two occasions, which was fully deserved. The midfielder impressed in both his Premier League 2 appearances against Derby County and Manchester United respectively. And in that Manchester United game in particular Craig really made a big impact on the game. Playing as a number four, he stayed close to Manchester United’s very creative CAM Hannibal Mejbri, and he got stuck in, and was assured in what he did in the central areas of the pitch. The then second year scholar who recently signed his first professional contract with Spurs (it runs until 2023), also registered an assist in the game against Manchester United (Spurs won 3-0). After a really good season of progress for Michael I am predicting for him to become an important regular for the Spurs Under 23 side during the 2021/22 season. So what type of midfielder is Michael? He is a technical one, who tends to play as a more advanced midfielder than his brother Matthew, who is more deep-lying, whereas Michael likes to advance forward with the ball more. He has shown that he can add a good number of goals and assists, and that he is more than capable of dictating play and running things in the centre of the park. Very good at winning possession both in the central areas of the pitch and also in the final third, as he demonstrated in the Spurs Under 18’s 6-1 league win over Chelsea during the 2020/21 season, when he put in a very good performance (registering another assist as well).

In that game against Chelsea at Cobham, Michael Craig pressed really well and he closed down the Chelsea players very effectively, and used the ball to great effect when he had it at his feet. Like Matthew, Michael is good at keeping the ball moving in the central areas of the pitch, and he makes intelligent decisions on the ball, and often with little time to think. He is a creative midfield player who has fine vision, and has the ability to make a highly effective and well weighted threaded pass in the final third. Like his brother Matthew, Michael Craig is a player destined for a bright future in the game in my opinion, and he is a player I look forward to hopefully seeing a lot more of for the Under 23’s next season. I would like to congratulate him on a great 2020/21 season for Spurs.

My piece on a mainstay of the Spurs Under 18 side during the 2020/21 season – Matthew Craig:

Previously of Watford, prior to joining Spurs as a schoolboy, versatile young footballer Matthew Craig was a regular and important player for Spurs’ Under 18 side during the season just gone. Like his twin brother Michael, Matthew is about to become a first year professional with the club (beginning at the start of the 2021/22 season), as he recently signed his first professional contract with them, which runs until 2023. The former Dame Alice Owen’s School pupil was a county cup winner and 1,500m district champion during his school days, and Matthew Craig has also represented Scotland at youth level, and he played for them at the 2018 Victory Shield. Obviously over the course of the last 2020/21 season I haven’t seen anywhere near as much of the Spurs Under 18 side as I would have in previous seasons when I would report on every game, home and away. However, and while part of this piece on Matthew Craig is based on watching the Barnet born footballer play during the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons, I still feel as if I have watched more than enough of Matthew for Spurs, to be able to write this short piece on what type of player he is. A central midfielder by trade, Matthew Craig (18) first made his Spurs Under 18 competitive debut back in the 2018/19 season. When the then schoolboy footballer came off the bench in the same game that his brother also did, to help Spurs to defend a two goal lead against Reading, away. Matthew did well in that game, and then a couple of weeks later he came off the bench again for the Spurs Under 18 side in a league game Aston Villa. Signing scholarship forms with Spurs for the start of the 2019/20 season, Matthew showed his versatility during the early stages of that season, playing at right-back and centre-back.

Putting in two really good and assured performances against Norwich City and Swansea City in central defence at the beginning of the competitive season, Matthew Craig followed this up by playing in his main position of CDM for the next game against West Ham. However, an injury sustained in the following game against Southampton at their Staplewood training ground ruled him out until the January of 2020, with Craig eventually returning to play in a league game against Brighton as a substitute. He played three further competitive games for Matt Taylor’s Spurs side, playing well in all three. But his best game for Spurs that season came in the final one, just before the season was curtailed, when Matthew registered two good assists in a 6-1 league win over Southampton at Hotspur Way. The next season (2020/21) the midfielder played 23 competitive games for Spurs’ Under 18 side, often alongside his twin brother Michael in central midfield, but Matthew would have almost certainly have played in every competitive game for the Spurs Under 18 side that season, but for missing the final games of the league season, presumably because of injury. He established himself as an important member of Matt Taylor’s side during the season just gone, and getting such a good amount of games will do him good for next season, when he steps up permanently to the Under 23 side. So what type of player is Matthew Craig? Well when he plays as a central defender (RCB) the midfielder has always impressed me whenever I have seen him play there. He keeps good positioning and is particularly good at making blocks, as he showed in the FA Youth Cup fourth round tie against AFC Wimbledon early in the year. His fine reading of the game also helps him to play well at centre-half, as well as his ability on the ball to bring it out from the back.

As a midfielder Matthew plays usually as a number 4, and he is more deep-lying than his brother Michael, who likes to get forward more. An intelligent and tigerish midfield player who likes to watch Harry Winks play for Spurs, Matthew is very good at anticipating the play and he works very hard off the ball, covering a lot of ground during matches, thanks to his great stamina. With good passing ability, the midfielder is good at keeping the ball moving in the central areas of the pitch, just like somebody like Harry Winks does, for example. Never overcomplicating things when he is on the ball, Matthew has a calming presence about him on the pitch, but he is also a tenacious player despite not being the biggest of players. Good at making challenges and getting in front of opposing teams players at the vital moment, one thing that Craig does which I really like is that he is so often looking to make that forward pass whenever he receives the ball. However, most importantly he is a very consistent performer and a reliable player, who looks to have a very bright future ahead of him in the game. And he is at a great club for producing defensive minded midfielders. I would like to wish Matthew all the very best of luck for next season, when I hopefully will see him play again on a regular basis. He should be proud of all that he has achieved during the season just gone.