My piece on promising and versatile young Spurs development side defender Jubril Okedina:

(This photograph is from Tottenham Hotspur FC)

A consistent, hardworking and reliable player for Tottenham Hotspur’s development side, versatile defender Jubril Adesope Okedina (19) has enjoyed two fine seasons of development at Spurs after enduring an injury hit campaign during his first season with the club full time. The former Beths Grammar School pupil who was born and raised in Woolwich, South London is a centre half (RCB) by trade however, since the 2018/19 campaign he has predominantly played as a right back, a position in which he has settled down nicely in. In the following piece I shall be giving Spurs fans who may not have seen Jubril Okedina play an understanding of what type of player he is, and what his traits and attributes are as a player. Having been at Spurs since a young age and risen up the various youth ranks at the club, Okedina made his competitive debut for Spurs’ under 18 side in a PL South fixture against Aston Villa in the February of 2017. Spurs fielded a very young side for that fixture due to having an important FA Youth semifinal tie against Chelsea soon afterwards. Okedina completed the entirety of the 2-1 defeat to the ‘ Villains ‘ at their Bodymoor Heath training, he played at centre half and did a fine job as he looked comfortable throughout the game. During the summer of 2017 Jubril Okedina signed scholarship forms with Spurs in time for the new 2017/18 campaign. However, for the young defender it was to be a difficult campaign with extremely limited playing time for the Londoner. Okedina made his first competitive appearance for our under 18’s that season when he started our Premier League Cup group stage game against Fulham. He put in a competent performance at RCB in that game as he partnered Brooklyn Lyons-Foster in central defence. Unfortunately in a season when Okedina was out for significant periods due to injury, the then first year scholar didn’t play again for our under 18’s in a competitive fixture until January 2018, when he came on as a late substitute in a pulsating 6-3 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion down on the south coast. 

In his second year of scholarship with the Lilywhites the teenager enjoyed an impressive break through season at under 18 level for the club. The defender who is also eligible to represent Nigeria at international level started the 2018/19 campaign when he came on as a substitute for our under 18’s in a PL South game against Swansea. It took a little bit of time before he established himself in the under 18 side in which he properly got a chance in after putting in a good performance and 3-2 victory over Arsenal in the league, a game in which he scored in. Okedina started every remaining league game that season for our under 18’s after that Arsenal game. Combining his time playing in his natural position of central defence as well as at right back the Spurs man who in addition to his 16 league games that season (he also featured once for them in the FA Youth Cup as well as making a couple of appearances in the Premier League Cup), also made his debut for our under 19’s in the UEFA Youth League against PAOK, as well as his under 23 debut in a PL2 game against Brighton and Hove Albion at right back. Okedina excelled for our under 18’s during that season with some excellent defending at both right back and centre half. However, our penultimate league game of the season against Chelsea in Cobham was arguably his best performance, as he put in a faultless defensive display with his reading of the game and anticipation of danger second to none. Promoted to our development side after signing a professional contract during the summer of 2019, Okedina played a number of games for our development side during pre-season, as well as travelling to France to play for Spurs in the Tournoi Europeen. Okedina started the 2019/20 season proper by performing very well at right back in our under 23’s 4-0 opening day PL2 victory over Liverpool. 

Jubril Okedina would play the vast majority of our development sides games up until March and before the season was curtailed due to the pandemic. The defender almost always played at right back, with the one exception being after he came on as a late substitute in a 4-0 PL2 defeat to Blackburn Rovers when he played at RCB. A very consistent performer throughout the campaign as he continued to adapt to his new position following the 2018/19 season, Okedina played 17 times for our development side during the season just gone, scoring one goal. As a right back during the season just gone some of Okedina’s impressive traits were defending tightly and aggressively down the right flank. In addition to that the versatile defender who is good with the ball at his feet and has good close control, is a skilful player who is capable of dribbling his way out of tight situations. He is a cool and composed defender who rarely panics, and reads the game mostly well and effectively. Some of Okedina’s best defensive attributes include being good in the air, possessing good pace, remaining defensively disciplined and also steady, with him usually making well timed challenges and rarely making rash decisions. A well rounded defender, one of the pluses to him playing at right back regularly is the fact that it will help him to further improve his ability to bring the ball out from the back when playing at centre half. Another plus to playing at right back is that it allows him to put his attacking qualities into practice. Last season the hardworking right back demonstrated a real willingness to get up and down that right flank throughout matches. Okedina who is strong at going forward on darting runs, knows when to overlap the Spurs right winger, but also when to stay deep and defend. The technically good young player is agile and that along with his strength allows him to get forward to effect. 

A good passer and crosser of the ball Okedina’s form shortly before the lockdown and subsequent curtailment of the season was very good indeed. The young defender put in two really good performances at right back against both Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers respectively in the PL2. In the game away to Leicester he defended solidly but also did some really good offensive work. Overlapping his man (the Spurs right winger – Maurizio Pochettino) at the right times, he really threatened Leicester down that side of the pitch. Okedina also scored a good goal after powering home an unstoppable low effort on the edge of the Leicester box. In the following and final league game of the season against Wolves in Stevenage, the right back once again put in a really good well rounded performance. Getting up and down that right flank so well, he defended tenaciously as well as being potent at the other end of the pitch. Okedina was also involved in our opening goal of that 3-2 win, when he curled a nice pass all the way down the right flank for winger Maurizio Pochettino to run onto and set up Troy Parrott. When you think about the fact that Jubril has really had to adapt to his new position over the course of the last two seasons, it really is quite impressive as he has looked really at home in that right back role. He is still young and developing his game as well as learning new things all the time, but he is a player I really like and admire for how he consistently performs on the pitch. Hopefully the defender who turns 20 in October can keep pushing on next season for our development side and continue to improve his all round game. I do really hope that he gets his chance to play for the first team in the future at some point, maybe one pre-season. Now that our development side players have returned to training at Hotspur Way I would like to wish Jubril all the very best of luck for the 2020/21 season as well as congratulate him for having a fine 2019/20 season.

Some notes on Spurs youngster Troy Parrott’s loan move to Millwall:

18 year old Tottenham Hotspur striker Troy Parrott joined Championship club Millwall yesterday on a season long loan. The Republic of Ireland international who is from Dublin and attended the O’Connell School, made some some big strides during the 2019/20 season despite not playing that many games. Parrott is one of if not the most exciting prospect to come out of Ireland in recent years, and the young man who has represented the Republic of Ireland at every level from under 15 has risen up the ranks quite remarkably since making his under 18 debut for Spurs in a league game against Swansea City in February 2018. The tall and very physical centre forward who scored a great number of goals for our under 18’s during his first year of scholarship at Spurs (he scored 15 goals in 10 games), has in my opinion improved remarkably in his all round game during the space of the last year. The former Belvedere player has always been a prolific scorer of goals, somebody who is a clinical finisher who scores a variety of goals but is also dangerous in the air, Parrott has improved on his pace, skill, balance, physicality, decision making and finishing since joining Spurs full time in the summer of 2018. The Dubliner looked far too good for under 18, 19 and 23 football during the season just gone (he contributed to at least one goal during all of the games that he played), with it all looking far too easy for him whenever he did play. He also stepped up during the pre-season of the 2019/20 campaign when he made four appearances for Spurs’ first team. He would also go onto make four appearances for Spurs’ first team in competitive competitions, including two in the Premier League as well as making his full Republic of Ireland debut in a friendly against New Zealand. Parrott is far more than just a goalscorer, a creative player who is intelligent and fairly unselfish in his play, the teenager can lay the ball off to teammates to great effect as well as being able to see a pass and hold the ball up effectively.

A great worker off the ball, this loan represents a fantastic opportunity to develop further as a player. To experience regular men’s football is in my opinion imperative in helping young players improve their game as well as prepare for the future at Spurs. Following in the footsteps of great Spurs striker Harry Kane who was also loaned out to Millwall during his youth, Parrott who reportedly turned down a number of interested clubs including Scottish giants Celtic to sign for the ‘ Lions ‘, has joined a fantastic club to develop at. Managed by a manager who plays quite an attractive but structured style of football in Gary Rowett, Millwall often play with only one centre forward up top. Currently Parrott will be competing with Matt Smith, Tom Bradshaw and Jón Dadi Bödvarsson for a starting berth in the Millwall team unless they play with two centre forwards which is something they did do on occasions in the Championship last season. Even if Millwall do stick with playing with one man up top, Parrott is in fact a versatile forward. He has played for Ireland as a CAM/second striker at youth level and even as a a left winger. Millwall only narrowly missed out on the Championship play offs last season, but with the loan signing of Parrott now completed I have a feeling that they will now achieve the play offs next season. Parrott is still very young but he is a mature player for his age and that will help him to adapt to life in the Championship. What will also help him to adapt is the fact that Millwall have a number of Irish players on their books, of which includes fellow Dubliner and veteran Shaun Williams and winger Shane Ferguson who hails from Tamnaherin in County Derry. The Millwall fans will in my opinion really admire Parrott’s work ethic and pressing, along with the feisty and aggressive side of his game. Parrott, who played at the Den for Spurs’ under 18’s in an FA Youth Cup third round tie back in 2018 will hopefully get good service when he does play for Millwall. And with one of the Championship’s most creative players on Millwall’s books in Jed Wallace (he registered 12 assists in the Championship last season), who with his vision and passing ability could link up really well with the young Irishman, especially when he whips crosses into the box.

To conclude I have nothing but positive things to say about this loan move for Troy as it will be so beneficial for his development in the game, and it will also help his chances of making the Republic of Ireland squad for their important European Championships qualifier against Slovakia in October. I would like to wish Troy all the very best of luck for his season at Millwall and I look forward to following his progress at the ‘ Lions ‘. Having watched the vast majority of Troy’s games for Spurs since he made his under 18 debut it has been an absolute pleasure to watch his rapid progression in the game. Hopefully he will be the first of a good number of our academy players to be loaned out this summer. 

Jamie Bowden: – The local lad who I’m hoping will follow in the footsteps of Harry Winks:

Jamie Bowden: – The local lad who I’m hoping will follow in the footsteps of Harry Winks:

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For many Spurs fans the name Jamie Bowden wouldn’t have meant an awful lot, up until our pre-season friendly against Girona at the beginning of last month. After the 17 year old who grew up off the park lane, came on in the 83rd minute of the game to make his first team debut for his boyhood club. For those of you who have read my match reports over the past two seasons, you’ll know how highly I rate the talented and terrifically consistent central midfielder. And after a sparkling start to the new 2018/19 season I thought I’d go into greater detail about the young prodigy, and considering it’s an international break at present I thought there was no better time to write my piece on the teenager from Tottenham. Especially, as I promised I would do in my report of our developments side encounter with Crawley last week, in which I awarded Jamie with the man of the match award for the second time in the space of just four days. A deep lying central midfielder with a distinctly creative style to his game, Jamie Bowden is currently in his second year of scholarship at Spurs. Bowden was a key component of the Tottenham under 18 side that reached the premier league cup final in the 2017/18 season. One of the youngest of Tottenham’s first year scholars. Bowden’s impressive performances cemented his place in the side over the course of the campaign, and he would go on to make 25 appearances for Parker’s side that same season. By no means a new name to me, I first saw Jamie play when he was only 14 years of age, in an academy showcase game involving Spurs and Ipswich’s under 15’s, back in March of 2016. Impressing in the centre of the park at Portman road, Bowden stood out with his passing range and composure both on and off the ball. The 14 year old also managed to find the back of the net courtesy of a stunning long range strike. The following season Bowden became an important member of our under 16’s side as well as earning a well deserved call up to the England under 16 team. The schoolboy made four appearances for our under 18’s during the 2016/17 campaign and with his maturity plain to see it was no wonder why.

However, it was in Bowden’s first year of scholarship at the club where he enjoyed arguably his greatest season yet. Making 25 appearances for Scott Parker’s side in all competitions along with two further appearances for the under 19’s in the UEFA youth league, Bowden was one of Parker’s most consistent performers. Bowden was a real force in the centre of the park, breaking up play effectively and keeping things tidy in the middle of the pitch. Young Jamie held his own against much stronger opponents, his reading of the game caught my eye very early on as did the teenagers tenacity and willingness to get to the ball before his man. Not only was the first year scholar an effective ball winner he was also one of our under 18’s most creative and influential players. A deep lying playmaker, Bowden’s exceptional passing range and fine vision for a pass contributed to many of the moves that led to our goals in the under 18 league. Bagging four assists and one goal throughout the domestic season, Bowden picked up many if not dozens of third assists and remained one of if not our best performer throughout the season. If you read back my match reports of last season you’ll know that I was raving about Bowden since the very first month of the season. From his decision making to his defending, and versatility across the park, not once did I see Jamie have a bad game. Filling in at centre half on numerous occasions during the season the teenager also impressed on the continent. And the youngster was awarded with the midfielder of the tournament award, for his string of excellent performances at the under 17 Borgaro Maggioni Righi tournament, in the spring of 2018. And Bowden has started the new 2018/19 season in exactly the same way, after impressing for our development side in pre-season Jamie has really upped his game in the under 18 southern league.

Bowden has put in a series of masterful and domineering performances in the centre of the park, the 17 year old has continued to shine. And after already matching his tally of four assists last season, Bowden is playing with even more confidence and flare to his game. After his superb display for our development side (on his competitive debut) during their Checkatrade trophy encounter with League two club Crawley Town last Tuesday, I thought it was about time I’d written a piece on our of most talented young players. Almost Carrick like in his play, Bowden is a deep lying central midfielder whose job is to act as a shield to the defence. Breaking up play, and keeping things ticking in the middle of the park like a Harry Winks type of player. Energetic and tenacious, Bowden is also exceptionally creative from deep and his excellent passing range has often been the difference for our under 18’s in games. With his deftly accurate passing and ability to read the game so well, Bowden reminds me of a young Harry Winks a player who he cites as one of his biggest influences. Like Winks, Bowden is a tireless central midfielder, a player who always manages to get back into his position at the vital time. Bowden is such an effective central midfielder who has a passing range just as impressive as the considerably older Winks. Young Jamie is a midfield technician who is able to combine his defensive duties with his devastating creativity. Like Michael Carrick, Bowden has that ability to take three or four players out of the game with a single pass, he also has the ability to dictate play from the middle of the park. Much more than a solid midfielder who can break up play and keep things tidy. The thing which impresses me time and time again about Bowden’s play is his awareness. He is constantly dropping into little pockets of space which allows him the time and the room to pick out other players who are higher up the pitch. Like his peer Oliver Skipp, Bowden reads the game with a maturity that is well beyond his years.

He knows when to make that cynical foul that is needed to thwart a dangerous attack, he also knows when he needs to feed the ball into the centre forward and with the deftness and the precision needed in order to paralyse the defence. However, it would be lazy to just draw comparisons with the likes of Carrick and Winks even though he reminds me of both, as for me Bowden is one of the least English, English midfielders at this level. From the way he reads the game, to the composure he shows whilst he is on the ball, Bowden is a typical Italian midfielder. With his almost Pirlo-esque passing and reading of the game, Bowden is able to do the nitty gritty side of the game to perfection whilst remaining focussed and aware of his surroundings. Despite his slight figure Bowden is strong in possession and rarely finds himself dispossessed, like his slightly older peer Oliver Skipp he keeps things simple and never overplays a situation. In many ways Bowden is quite similar to the more experienced Oliver Skipp, both are extremely attentive players who are very good at recycling possession and keeping their position. However, even if Bowden didn’t have that creative element to his game he’d still be an exceptionally talented player, but it’s that edge to his game which has always caught my eye. His all round ability on the football pitch is quite striking as he demonstrated so effectively against Crawley last week. Coming up against the physically imposing midfield duo of Dannie Bulman and Mark Randall, Bowden held his own in the middle of the park alongside his more offensive partner Paris Maghoma. The teenager stayed deep as he snuffed out danger, proving to be a vital cog in Burnett’s side. As the game progressed Bowden became more confident and assertive. And during the second half Bowden showed off his impressive passing range, pulling off some ambitious passes to feed the centre forward (Shayon Harrison) in.

The midfielder also showed this maturity in the Tournoi Europeen in pre-season, when he put in a string of highly effective midfield performances against older and more physical opposition. Bowden is an Irish Londoner who is eligible to represent Ireland at international level and considering how frequently scouts from the FAI turn up to watch games at Hotspur Way, I would be astonished if he wasn’t already on their radar. Having watched him play extensively over the past couple of seasons I can say that Bowden is undoubtedly one of the finest central midfielders of his age group, in this country and I was particularly surprised that the three lions didn’t call him up over the summer for the under 17 European championships. Jamie is a nuisance to come up against, he is tigerish and unrelenting, unafraid to get stuck in though he is astute in his defending and is never rash in the challenge. I’m not going to compare him with Skipp or Maghoma for the simple fact that they are all different types of midfielders, who all have different attributes and styles. However, Bowden is one special talent and an elegant one at that, so often you see technically gifted midfielders who don’t possess that impressive passing range. However, Bowden pings the ball about like a young Pirlo, he is a midfield craftsman as much as he is a defensive midfielder. He reads the game well, he has a decent shot at his disposal but what Bowden has that so many young midfielders don’t have is the ability to pick apart a defence with a single pass. The weight and sheer accuracy of his passing is just sublime. In my opinion Bowden is more than ready to make the permanent step up to the under 23 side, he is far too good for the under 18 league. And whilst he does lack in strength he makes up for it in intelligence and awareness, as he showed against Crawley he is ready to make that step up. If Bowden is promoted to the development side then he will provide Burnett with a real creative edge from the middle, something which they have really lacked so far this season, and I’m hoping that he’ll start against Manchester City on Friday to prove this.

Jamie Bowden has been at Spurs since the age of six, he is a lifelong Tottenham fan who has been immersed in the philosophies and traditions of the club. Without sounding overly positive in this article (which I am by no means being!) I couldn’t sing his praises highly enough, and like Skipp and Winks he is the perfect Pochettino player who ticks so many boxes. Like Skipp, Bowden strikes me as a quiet and unassuming lad, I just hope that he continues to enjoy his football and develop as he does so. He has a very big future with both Spurs and Ireland and he is a player who you will be hearing a lot more about over the course of the season.

Shayon Harrison on Jamie’s performance against Crawley Town last week: “Jamie in the midfield, in his first game, looked so comfortable and looked like he’s played in 100 games already!”

Samuel Shashoua – The young artist:

Samuel Shashoua – The young artist:

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After his superb performance against West Ham’s development side on the opening weekend of the PL2 season. I thought I’d write a piece on one of Wayne Burnett’s and Tottenham’s most promising youngsters, Samuel Shashoua. The teenager from Chelsea in west London who is the older brother of our under 18 midfielder Armando, is one of my favourite ever Spurs youth players. He remains to this day the most technically gifted Spurs academy player that I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. A tricky right winger who is adept at playing on either flank or through the middle, the 19 year old made the permanent step up to the development side during the 2017/18 campaign. However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the former England under 18 international who had been the jewel in the crown of our talented under 18 side the previous season. Shashoua had been scoring and assisting goals for fun during the 2016/17 season, during his second year of scholarship at the club he was unplayable. A pivotal part of the Spurs side which reached the semifinals of the FA youth cup that same season, Samuel was tearing it up in the under 18 league. He was ripping defences apart with his trademark weaving runs, searing pace and excellent balance. By the midpoint of that season under 18 football was essentially a stroll in the park for the 17 year old Spurs starlet. If he wasn’t scoring in one game he was laying off a couple of assists for his teammates in another, he was quite simply unstoppable. I can remember watching one game that season at Hotspur Way, it was a league game against Swansea on an incredibly windy winters afternoon. Shashoua was unplayable during our comprehensive 5-0 victory over the Swans, at times mesmeric. The teenager attacked the Swansea defence with a real ferocity, driving at them with real skill and agility. He was menacing both on and off the ball as he tracked back down the right wing throughout the match and though he was fouled on so many occasions not once did he react.

There were two scouts stood next to me on that day and one of them was waxing lyrical about Samuel the whole game. ” That kids absolutely incredible ” he said as Samuel went onto score two goals against the Welsh side. Hugely admiring of his skill and great balance he was also surprised at how strong Samuel was for such a small and slight player. There was one moment in the game when he cut inside from the right flank before taking on and beating two Swansea defenders with great ease, before smashing the ball against the frame of the goal, it was like watching a young Lionel Messi in full flow. Samuel got into double figures for both goals and assists that season and would end the campaign as our under 18’s second top scorer, whilst going onto make a string of appearances for the under 23’s before the end of that season. His rich vein of form was even rewarded with a place on the bench for our first teams penultimate premier league game of the season away to Leicester City. Although he never came on, it what was an incredible experience for the 17 year old to endure. It was a move from Pochettino which clearly showed how highly him and his coaching staff rated the skilful playmaker. However, the following season wasn’t as fruitful for the teenager who made the permanent step up to the development squad. It was an injury disrupted campaign for Shashoua who featured on 19 occasions for Burnett’s side. Unable to force his way into the side until the end of September, Shashoua picked up an injury just as he was getting into a good patch of form in the autumn time. This was one of a series of frustrating injury lay offs which halted Shashoua’s progress that season.

An artist in the mould of somebody such as Christian Eriksen or David Silva, Shashoua is a typical playmaker. Somebody who can initiate chances out of nothing, he is sharp and unpredictable. With his many twists and turns and well worked manoeuvres, the midfield craftsman enjoyed his best vein of form on the European stage, for our under 19’s last season. Directly involved in five of our goals in the UEFA youth league, Shashoua played a big part in Spurs reaching the quarter finals of the competition. And young Samuel was able to end the campaign on a positive note as he won the player of the tournament in the post season Volksbank cup in Stemwede, Germany. He even got to have his photograph taken with the tournament mascot, a giant mouse! As he received the prestigious award. After a good pre-season away with the development squad I have a really good feeling about this campaign for Samuel. He put in an excellent performance in our opening league game of the season against West Ham where he played as a central attacking midfielder. His sharp twists and turns, and strength whilst traveling with the ball at his feet caused great problems for the West Ham defence. His superb goal inside the opening 15 minutes drew gasps from the crowd, as the young playmaker continued to be Spurs’ most dangerous player throughout that half. With his tricky runs and incisive moves through the middle and his great vision for a pass, he was the shining light in what was a very flat Tottenham performance. However, he was forced off early on in the second half after picking up a knock which resulted in him missing our game against Liverpool later on in the week. With a bit of luck he can avoid those injuries this season and get a good run of games for the development side, something which will undoubtedly boost his confidence and strengthen his chances of being promoted to the first team. As stated earlier on in my article, Samuel is the most technically gifted youth player that I’ve ever seen at Spurs.

Many will be surprised that I haven’t said Marcus Edwards, and whilst both players are immensely talented and in someways very similar types of players, Samuel has always been the one who I’ve felt has the highest ceiling. With excellent close ball control, balance and pace over short distance. Shashoua is an exciting playmaker, I’ve long nicknamed him our very own David Silva due to his creativity. But the former England youth international who has represented the three lions up to under 18 level, is in my eyes the complete cam. He is incredibly skilful and quick, he is strong on the ball and has that rare ability of being able to ride challenges so very well. He has a real footballing brain and is such an unselfish team player who works incredibly hard for the team, tracking back and covering for other players who are out of position. And whilst he is a good finisher who scores an impressive number of goals, Shashoua is a real creative force as he has demonstrated so effectively at u18 and u23 level. He reads the game exceptionally well and has the vision and the intelligence needed to pick out forwards with deceptive Lamela-esque through balls. All of those qualities combined make him an extremely useful player for Pochettino. Apart from the superb Christian Eriksen we don’t really have that type of creative player who can open up a defence with a single pass or a clever jinking run. I’m not suggesting that Samuel is ready to make the step up to the first team at this moment in time however, if somebody like the talented Phil Foden can get significant game time off the bench for Man City, then so should Samuel. For anybody who saw him play during that 2016/17 season you’ll all know what I’m talking about. As with a lot of young players who play in a similar position to Samuel the fear amongst fans is that they won’t have the physicality to deal with men’s football due to being so small and slight.

Yet Shashoua’s small stature is deceptive and believe it or not he is actually one of the strongest players in the development side (on the ball). The 19 year old is a player who possesses great technique and skill. Like Edwards he has that flair about his game, that unpredictable almost Messi like ability to embarrass a defender with a single turn/trick. His high pressing and tracking back after him is a quality that Pochettino will greatly admire, and in so many ways he strikes me as the perfect Pochettino player. He has a long road ahead of him but if he can get a good run of games for Burnett’s side this season and make a positive contribution to the team then it will really help his development, and possibly even result in him making the bench for the first team in a domestic cup game. Last season there were strong rumours around January time linking Samuel with a loan move to Brad Friedel’s New England Revolution. And back in May a rumour from Turkey suggested that Turkish giants Fenerbache were looking to sign the 19 year old. A certain Damien Commoli is the footballing director at the Turkish club. Samuel is also eligible to represent a selection of national teams such as America, Spain and Venezuela. The teenager even has a forum dedicated to him on an American footballing site by fans who would no doubt love to see him in the red, white and blue of the United States National team. An exciting season is in the offing for the older of the two Shashoua brothers and I for one am really looking forward to seeing him get a lot of game time for the development side. His quality is as good as that of any young English player and with a with a bit of luck and a good run of form for the under 23’s this season, it could well be a breakthrough season for the young artist. I wish Samuel all the very best of luck for the remainder of the season. He is such a special talent who we are all so lucky to have at Spurs.

The continued rise of Oliver Skipp:

The continued rise of Oliver Skipp:

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I’ve been meaning to write a piece on Spurs academy hopeful Oliver Skipp throughout the close season. In fact I did start a long in-depth article on the midfielder whilst on holiday in Ireland back in June, but anyhow here it is now and hopefully it does the immensely talented youngster justice. After the teenagers recent exploits away with the first team on our pre-season tour of the United States I think it’s quite an appropriate time to write a piece on Skipp, and one inwhich reflects on his extraordinary contribution to the development side last season whilst still a first year scholar. The Hertfordshire born midfielder played an incredible 61 games for Spurs’ various youth teams last season whilst in his first year of scholarship at the club. Young Oliver has always been ahead of his years at least since I first became aware of him. As an under 15 he was already a full England under 16 international and an integral part of of Tottenham’s under 16 side. The following season (2016/17) the lifelong Spurs supporter was quickly integrated into John McDermott’s under 18 side despite only being a schoolboy. It didn’t take Skippy (as he is known by teammates) long before he made his mark on that talented side. He became an important part of the side which made the 2017 FA youth cup semifinals that same season, he also made a string of appearances for the under 19 side in Europe. On top of that he featured prominently for McDermott’s side in the under 18 league after adapting so seamlessly to under 18 football, he also regularly played at centre half. The tenacious midfielder would reach a feat few youth players had achieved for Spurs. When in February of 2017 he was given his debut for the development side by the late Ugo Ehiogu in a PL2 game against Sunderland. Oliver was still a schoolboy. A domineering defensive midfielder Skipp shows all the qualities of an old school ball winning anchor man, combined with the qualities of so many of the top central midfielders of the modern day.

Combining brains with brawn Skipp is incomparable with any of the midfielders of his age group in England. He draws likeness with a wide ranging set of players, from our very own legendary midfielder Steve Perryman to the likes of Frank Lampard, Toni Kroos and a certain Michael Carrick. He is the complete defensive midfielder, he has that ability to control games from the centre of the park. He is both domineering and decisive, he recycles possession effectively and is able to read the game to perfection. He presses relentlessly and keeps good positioning, often covering for defenders who are higher up the pitch and out of position. He carries the ball well and is able to glide past players twice his size in the centre of midfield, showing great guile as he does so. However, the lad from Hertford is much more than a combative defensive midfielder and fine centre half. He is also an extremely creative player who uses the ball resourcefully to initiate attacking moves from deep. His range of passing is impressive as is his skilfulness, something which isn’t mentioned a lot about his game. The teenager is also a good dribbler and he often poses a threat going forward, with his trademark lung bursting forwards runs from deep inside in his own half. A little over a year ago I watched in amazement as Oliver started our under 23’s first league game of the season against Sunderland, up in County Durham. Skipp singlehandedly embarrassed Sunderland’s Jack Rodwell in the middle of the park that day, he controlled the midfield from start to finish, even going onto assist Kazaiah Sterling’s goal. It was at that precise moment that I realised how incredibly special a talent the teenager was.

After our encounter with the black cats development side Skippy never seemed to look back, he would go onto cement his place in Burnett’s under 23 side. Keeping out his older and more experienced teammates such as Jack Roles and Dylan Duncan in the process. His ability to dictate games is one of his greatest qualities, his composure under pressure and ability to create little pockets of space for himself is so effective, and useful for his teammates as it helps to alleviate the pressure off of others. That remarkable maturity makes him a natural born leader. He constantly plays with his arm flailing and can often be seen giving out advice to other members of the team throughout games. Having watched Skipp play extensively over the past couple of seasons I’ve grown to admire his style of play. There’s no big I am about the teenager from Hertford. No pretentious skills or over the top showboating in the centre of the park (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) like Winks he doesn’t take unnecessary chances during games. He keeps things ticking like the 22 year old midfielder, but unlike Winks he is far more effective at breaking up play and recycling possession, it seems to come more naturally to him. Throughout my many reports from last season you’ll spot a consistent theme whenever I reviewed Skipp’s performances, not once did he have a bad game. He was consistent throughout the campaign and whilst he did tire towards the end of the season due to the ridiculous amount of games he had been involved in, he always managed to hold his own and find a way to impact games. Whether that be throwing himself right in front of an attempt on goal or making defence splitting passes through the middle. He always managed to find a way to effect the game in a positive way. It didn’t surprise me in the slightest to see him impress fans with his performances for the first team this summer. His most impressive showing came during our showdown with AC Milan in Minneapolis.

During that game Skipp managed to hold his own in the middle of the park whilst competing with house hold names such as Franck Kessié and Manuel Locattelli. He fitted in so seamlessly to Pochettino’s young side, he was assertive and energetic all over the pitch. With his typically aggressive pressing and hounding down of the opposition players, Skipp also managed to make some important interceptions and recoveries. His pass completion rate was impressive as was the way in which he carried the ball in the centre of the pitch. He even drew praise from Tottenham star Christian Eriksen who was impressed by Skipp’s courage and all round ability. During my end of season round up of our development side last season, I lauded Skipp as the best English midfielder of his age group in the country, and I strongly stand by that statement. I’m not expecting him to get much game time for Pochettino’s side this season other then in the odd cup game. However, I’m expecting him to go down the same path of development as Walker-Peters and Winks have done in recent seasons. That consistent involvement with the first team in training combined with regular involvement in the PL2 with the development side, and the UEFA youth league with the under 19’s. Young Oliver is an exceptional talent and I know for a fact that all of the premier leagues top clubs have been tracking him for a long, long time. But like Winks and Onomah and Kane he is a Tottenham fan just like you and me, and sometimes that is all that matters. The masterful midfielder has already proved to Pochettino that he is able to step up and perform on the big stage. The next step for young Oliver and the Tottenham coaching staff is about nurturing that talent and ever so slowly easing him into the first team fold. And I have no doubts whatsoever that he’ll go onto make his mark on the first team in the future, after all he is still only 17!

Why I’m hoping that Anthony Georgiou can follow Danny Rose’s path into the first team:

Why I’m hoping that Anthony Georgiou can follow Danny Rose’s path into the first team:

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After an impressive time away with Spurs’ first team in America last month, academy graduate Anthony Georgiou is continuing to show signs of improvement to his game ahead of the start of the domestic season. Over a year has past since he made his explosive debut for the first team during the 2017 tour of the states, with a terrific performance against AS Roma. A fruitful season followed for the Londoner, who would later go onto make his competitive debut for the Lilywhites during our champions league game with APOEL Nicosia, in Anthony’s native Cyprus. If that wasn’t already enough Georgiou also went onto win two international caps for Cyprus that same season. Dividing his time training with the first team and the development side, Georgiou also made 13 appearances for the under 23’s last season. Scoring on one occasion. A stark contrast to the injury hit 2016/17 season that he endured. It was so refreshing to see so many of our academy players involved with the first team on our tour of America. Anthony was joined by the likes of Oliver Skipp, Luke Amos, George Marsh and TJ Eyoma, all of whom were excellent for Pochettino’s side when called upon. Georgiou played in all three of our ICC games featuring prominently in our encounters with Barcelona and AC Milan, and he won many plaudits off of Spurs supporters in the process. With his explosive pace and good awareness Georgiou proved effective down the right wing after coming on as a second half substitute against Barcelona in game two. Eager to run at the Barcelona defence Georgiou’s tricky attacking forays asked questions of the Spanish sides fullback Marc Cucurella and he would go onto create Nkoudou’s equaliser during the latter stages of the game (even though he should have been awarded the goal!).

In his next outing Georgiou would be played at left back as Spurs took on Italian giants AC Milan in Minneapolis. This is where I thought Georgiou had his best game of the tour. Not only did he read the game well and defend to a good standard, Anthony was exceptionally bright going forwards. His rapid pace left him in good stead as he galloped down the left wing linking up well with and overlapping Nkouodu. He is no stranger to playing at wing back, he featured prominently in that position for Burnett’s development side last season putting in some strong defensive performances. He looked incredibly assured whilst up against Milan’s tricky forward Suso, I thought he tracked him well and prevented him from enjoying too much space out on the right wing. He also carried the ball extremely well, his fine skill and balance helping him to get away from Milan players whilst in tight spaces. However, Georgiou was very much an attacking fullback throughout the entirety of his time on the pitch he would surge forwards whenever he had the opportunity, and was always looking to take players on. Something which is so typical of his game, he is such a direct and forward thinking winger a traditional wide man in many respects. Having watched Anthony play at youth level for so long I’ve no doubts whatsoever that he could become a Pochettino style wingback much like Danny Rose has managed to become. Rose once a winger himself was converted to fullback in his early 20’s and whilst it took him a fair while and a couple of loan moves before he learnt his trade and adapted his game. He managed to defy the odds. And it wasn’t too long ago that he was regarded as one of the finest left backs in the world something which few Spurs fans would have predicted only a couple of seasons earlier.

On each of his seven appearances for the first team Georgiou has only ever drawn positive feedback from fans. However, as great as it is to see the likes of Georgiou, Amos and Skipp playing pre-season friendlies it is crucial that they get to play competitive games for the first team as well. As the old saying goes it’s a fine dividing line. In my opinion Anthony shows all the hallmarks of being a top class wingback he has speed, skill, agility and good awareness. He also has an absolute wand of a left foot, he is a good crosser of the ball and he can certainly test the goalkeeper as well. As shown on the tour he also has good vision and has the ability to pick out key passes to the forwards. The Lewisham born winger is courageous and has a ridiculously high work rate and loves to press the opposing teams defenders. I’ll never forget that time I was watching our under 23’s take on Manchester United back in 2016. Georgiou who was our best player that day suffered a nasty gash to the side of his head. Despite dripping with blood he was up and down that flank like nobody else, even though he was quite clearly in some discomfort. In some respects he reminds me of my fellow countryman James McClean, a marauding left winger who is also adept at playing at wingback I have watched him play extensively over the years. McClean who is a star for the Irish national team is lightening quick like Georgiou, he is also strong and has a wand of a left foot. Although Georgiou is far more skilful than the Stoke player the thing that is so strikingly similar about them is their relentless chasing down of the opposition. Like McClean, Georgiou has the most exceptional work rate it doesn’t matter if he’s playing as a wingback or as an out and out winger. The youngster is nonstop, he tracks back at every opportunity and unlike other players on the pitch he’ll make those lung bursting runs to commit himself defensively.

When Pochettino’s side face Girona tomorrow in their final game of pre-season Georgiou will likely be given more game ahead of the start of our premier league campaign the following Saturday. In my eyes he has proven himself at this level both as a winger and as a wingback, he is also far too good to be playing at youth level. He is a player capable of offering so much more to the first team whether that be as an impact sub playing on the wing or as a youthful wingback, he would also undoubtedly save Pochettino money. Georgiou is a special talent and one who thoroughly deserves to be fully integrated into the first team squad this season. Like Rose was at the same age Georgiou is a natural attack minded winger whose first thoughts are to beat his man down the left wing. That is something which we have lacked since the days of Lennon and Bale and something which is so key to the way Pochettino’s likes his side to play football. Rose was once that kind of player but he was able to use his speed and skill to his advantage so as to better his defensive game. I have a great feeling about this season for Georgiou and I think that he can go a step further than he did last season by getting more game time. Whether that will be for the first team or for another club out on loan we’ll have to wait and see. However, if somebody was to ask me which youth player most deserves to have a sustained run in the first team this season I would say Anthony without any hesitation. For me he has the all attributes of a top wingback/winger and I and many other Spurs fans are looking forward to seeing how he progresses this season. I just thoroughly hope that Pochettino will give the fearless wideman more game time to prove his worth.

Luke Amos and Kazaiah Sterling: Some insight on the two Academy starlets braced for their Spurs debuts this evening:

Luke Amos and Kazaiah Sterling: Some insight on the two Academy starlets braced for their Spurs debuts this evening:

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There was a lot of talk about which Spurs youngsters would be included in our final champions league group game at home to APOEL on Wednesday evening. I myself went on about it in some detail in my preview of the game, predicting (as well as hoping) that the likes of S.Shashoua, Edwards and Sterling would all be amongst the match day squad, for a game which from Tottenham’s perspective they can not benefit from, having already secured top spot. It turns out that two Academy starlets will be part of this evenings squad as confirmed by Pochettino at yesterday’s press conference, tenacious midfielder Luke Amos (20) and promising striker Kazaiah Sterling (19) are both braced for their first appearance for the lilywhites. Even though it’s just the two players included by Pochettino and co, I’m absolutely delighted for the pair, who I have watched progress and develop for many years at youth level, below is some of my thoughts on the two players and some insight into their styles of play and traits.

Luke Amos: Now 20 years of age, Hertfordshire born midfielder Luke Amos looks set to make play his first competitive game in a Spurs shirt. The midfielder who joined our Academy set up from Ware youth in 2006, has risen through the ranks at Hotspur Way winning many plaudits along the way. An integral part of our talented FA youth cup team of 2014/15, Amos has also appeared on two occasions for the England under 18’s team and has gone on to become a key member of the development side. A tenacious defensive midfielder by trade, Amos enjoyed a successful loan spell at league one side Southend during the second part of last season. impressing manager Phil Brown and Southend fans alike. In my many match reports of Spurs development squad games, you’ll know from my individual player reviews that I’ll often describe Amos’ performance, as incredibly tidy/efficient, or that he broke up play really well and dominated the midfield. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen the youngster have a bad game, he is one of the most consistent and hard working Academy performers and that will be something that Pochettino will have noted from his time at the club. Though a versatile player, Amos mainly operates as a holding midfielder, a little like former Spurs man Lesniak in many respects. Amos is an anchor man a vital clog in a Spurs side that loves to attack and go forward. The midfielder covers a ridiculous amount of ground, presses the opposition well and isn’t flashy in his play. He keeps it simple with short passes and sharp incisive movement. He is tough tackling and determined, he isn’t the kind of player that’s going to play a defence splitting pass or one that will overplay situations with a sparkling piece of skill. He is more a player in the Wanyama mould, a player who does his defensive duties impeccably so that others can do the attacking sides of the game.

I remember Spurs legend Cliff Jones was left mighty impressed after seeing Amos play in PL2 game last season. Amos has impressed in the numerous senior friendlies he has been involved in, and with his terrific attitude and determination I’m sure that he’ll impress again tonight, if called upon.

Kazaiah Sterling: After bursting on to the scene as a schoolboy back in the spring of 2015 in the FA Youth Cup, former Leyton Orient youngster Kazaiah Sterling has been touted as a hot prospect by many Spurs fans and coaches alike. A talented young striker who has represented England at youth level, Sterling is a powerful and pacy centre forward who possesses a terrific work rate and desire to make promising runs in between the defenders. He is always on the move something that Pochettino will like a lot, but what I like most about young Sterling is his clinical ability in front of goal. He likes to finish with a hard and low effort he hits them early (like Keane) he is sharp of his mark and a real threat in the air. He shows great awareness and is a player who possesses a great goal scoring record at youth level. This season his tally for goals scored stands at 10, whilst he has also chipped in with 2 assists. His cameo for the season side in Hong Kong last season saw him net his first goal for Spurs! I was already planning on writing a much longer piece on the young striker and I will do that soon, I wish both our lads the very best of luck for this evening. COYS

 

A piece on Tottenham’s promising young goalkeeper Brandon Austin:

A piece on Tottenham’s promising young goalkeeper Brandon Austin:

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I started writing this piece on Spurs academy goalkeeper Brandon Austin (18) yesterday, I’d been meaning to write something on the highly rated USA youth international for some time now following the many heroic performances his pulled off for our youth teams over the past year. Unbeknownst to me Austin today signed a new contract which was announced today by the club. The new deal which will take him up until 2019 is a great reward for a player who has developed into one of the finest goalkeepers in the PL2. I don’t write articles on our goalkeepers too often, especially those within our academy. Amongst a plethora of talent at Hotspur way, we have a number of brilliant young goalkeepers that are rising through the ranks. Tom Glover, Alfie Whiteman, Jonathan De Bie, Charlie Freeman and Joshua Oluwayemi are but a few to name. However, since the beginning of last season no other keeper than that of Brandon Austin has impressed me more. With his cat like reflexes and ability to collapse his body at the vital moment to make a stunning save, Austin’s all round game has come on leaps and bounds. The teenager from Hemel Hempstead was a pupil at the same school as fellow Spurs starlet Harry Winks. Joining Spurs from Chelsea’s famous youth academy, Austin was a talented basketball player whilst at school, his family ties to sport come from his father, a one time professional basketball player. However, it’s the promising youngsters expertise in between the sticks which is what I’m focusing on, having watched him play extensively over the last year and a half, I’ve been able to see Austin develop rapidly from a first year scholar having to battle for a spot between Alfie Whiteman and Tom McDermott.

To becoming a mainstay with in the development squad as well as having travelled with Pochettino’s senior side on a number of occasions. It comes as no surprise to me that the USA youth international has been awarded a new deal for his performances over the course of the last season, of which have been nothing short of magnificent. In many ways being a goalkeeper is almost like a sport of its own, isolated and cut off from the flow of the outfield game it’s easy to under appreciate their all round ability. Austin is a keeper of immense potential his all round game is very good for that of a young man, he’s so confident and assured, dominant in the air and commanding of the defenders in front of him. But it’s Austin’s shot stopping ability and positioning that are so impressive. His reflex saves such as the ones he made during his man of the match performance against Chelsea in the youth cup last season, are very special indeed. A recent game in which he won plaudits for was the under 19 game away to Real Madrid, where Austin produced no fewer than 8 crucial saves to keep Spurs in the game, of which half of them were outstanding saves. It’s one of the youngsters footballing heroes that he reminds me of, a certain Petr Cech. It’s hard to compare goalkeeping traits but Austin’s sheer focus and overall play remind me of the world class goalkeeper. Brandon has been first class all season and I’m delighted for him on his new contract, under the tutelage of the fantastic Toni Jimenez and the coaches at Hotspur Way, the young Spurs man is a player of huge potential, and one in which I look forward to seeing develop further.

 

Keanan Bennetts: One to watch

Keanan Bennetts: One to watch

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In the next part of my next generation series of articles where I focus on some of our academy’s brightest youngsters, I’ll be taking a look at a player who I’ve watched extensively over the past two seasons, for both the under 18’s and under 23’s. 18 year old winger Keanan Bennetts is an exciting prospect who enjoyed a fruitful 2016/17 campaign, scoring four goals and claiming eight assists for John McDermott’s side in their league campaign. Bennetts was also a vital part of the under 18 side that made it to the semi finals of the FA youth cup. The Edgware born player, who has represented England as high up as under 17 level, had at one stage divided his time playing for both England and Germany’s youth teams whilst below the age of 16, whilst he is also eligible to represent Nigeria through his father. A winger who can operate on both sides of the pitch, Bennetts can also play at wing back as he has already demonstrated so impressively during pre season. Throughout my time watching our under 18’s and 23’s play last season, there were few players more involved and more potent than the young winger. With lightening quick pace and a delicious left footed cross, Bennetts menaced many defences that he came up against, providing a spark with in a side rich with talent. Whilst predominantly featuring on the left wing, Bennetts is equally adept on the right, good with both feet he is an agile and skilful player.

The winger capped off an excellent pre season campaign by playing a vital part of the Spurs development squad which won the Euro under 21 tournament in France, for which Bennetts was named the player of the tournament, for his performances at left back. A raw talent with an unpredictability about his game, he reminds me to an extent of a young Wilfried Zaha. He has that flair about his game, that ability to beat a couple of players with his searing pace and to then cap it off with a top cross/shot on goal. That individual quality of his, was best summed up in the FA Youth cup quarter final last season, when out of seemingly nothing Bennetts cut inside on to his left on the edge of the area, before emphatically firing the ball into the back of the net in what was a quite superb solo goal. Even on his not so good games, he leaves an impression on the game, he’s a trier both on and off the ball. One of his greatest assets is his crossing, he has an excellent whipped cross, which causes such an attacking threat. In addition, he has that rare ability to just power his way past players down both flanks with his blistering pace. You don’t quite know what he will do next, such is the exciting and unpredictable nature of his game. Whilst it’s unknown whether Wayne Burnett will be converting him into a full back (which he looks so comfortable in doing) it boosts his chances of breaking into Pochettino’s senior team in the future.

Pochettino has long craved that pacy winger who can cause a spark to a game when most needed, he is still to find that exact player with in his side. I hope that Bennetts can be that type of player in the team over the coming seasons, yes he is by no means the finished article. He has a lot of developing to do with in his game, with wingers taking longer to learn their trade and mature. But he is an improving and striving player who really pushed on last season for the under 18’s and 23’s, he’s a player who I’m a big fan of. He hasn’t recently received that big hype around him as much as other prospects have, but in this current climate of inflated transfer prices. I feel as if this gem of a player can break through to the seniors over the coming seasons, it’s a big season for Bennetts who’s season kicks off this evening with the under 23’s game against Sunderland up in County Durham, but he is a name for Spurs fans to keep an eye on over the coming season. I for one, certainly wouldn’t rule out the 18 year old making his debut for Spurs in one of the early rounds of the domestic cup competitions. COYS

Some background information on the youngsters called up to Spurs’ USA tour:

Some background information on the youngsters called up to Spurs’ USA tour:

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Amongst the senior players called up to Pochettino’s squad for Spurs’ upcoming pre season tour of the USA, there are seven youngsters from our academy that have also been included. The following piece will provide some background information on these players and their styles of play. I haven’t included 20 year old full back Kyle Walker-Peters on the list as he’s already been training with Pochettino’s first team squad for some time.

Brandon Austin: The 18 year old goalkeeper was a mainstay in our under 18’s side last season enjoying an excellent campaign, the talented shot stopper has already made two appearances for our under 23’s. Austin will be traveling to the country which he has represented at youth level, Austin played for the USA’s under 18 team last April, he is eligible through his father who was a professional basketball player.

Jaden Brown: The Lewisham born left back played a big part in both of our under 18 and under 23 campaigns last season. Brown who operates at left back, has represented England up to under 18 level, Brown is a player who I rate highly he’s a defensive but pacy fullback who is akin to Ben Davies in some ways, he can also fill in at centre half if needed. Brown joins Ben Davies as our only other natural left back on the tour.

Jon Dinzeyi: Towering centre half Jon Dinzeyi was a regular in our under 18 squad last season up until suffering an injury which ruled him out for the last few months of the campaign. The second year scholar whose excellent in the air has represented England at under 17 level over the course of last season. The islington born centre half who is still only 17, is clearly a player that Spurs rate highly hence his inclusion in the squad.

Anthony Georgiou: A player who I’m very happy to see included in the squad, Georgiou had an injury hit 2016/17 season for our under 23’s. The 20 year old left winger who can also play at fullback, is a player who I’ve always rated highly. A rapid winger with a fine cross at his disposal, the Cypriot youth international fully deserves his chance to shine in the first team and I suspect that Pochettino will use him as a wingback due to our shortage of left backs.

Tashan Oakley-Boothe: 17 year old midfielder Tashan Oakley-Boothe was a star of England’s under 17 euro campaign over the summer, the highly rated midfielder is another of our talented midfield prospects. Dembelesque in his style of play, the strong midfielder possesses great skill and vision, he is a very attack minded midfielder.

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Will Miller: A familiar name with in our academy set, up the 21 year old forward spent last season on loan with championship club Burton Albion. The highly skilful and agile Miller was a part of Pochettino’s last pre season squad that travelled to Australia, putting in a fine showing at the unfamiliar setting of left back. The former child actor is a player who I strongly believe can became a Spurs senior player in the near future, watch out for his impressive movement on the ball.

Alfie Whiteman: Last but not least is talented young goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman, the England under 18 international is in my opinion of England’s most promising young goalkeepers. Whiteman who is from Tottenham, has been a part of Pochettino’s traveling senior squad on a couple of occasions last season. Whilst making the bench for our league cup tie with Gillingham at the Lane. COYS