The injured Clinton N’Jie has been sidelined by a knee injury for two months now but is set to return to training. His return could give Spurs some added spark and squad rotation if he is able to break into the team.
The injury is a cruel thing, especially in the player’s first season for the club. He has been unable to fully settle into the Premier League rhythm, due to only making seven substitute appearances for the club. Fans haven’t seen the best of him yet, and may see him at his best next season. Overcoming a lengthy injury will be a good test of his mentality, but more importantly, it will give Pochettino more attacking options.
He is best suited to playing on the wing, exploiting his pace and dribbling ability to affect the game. Pochettino has also experimented with him by deploying him as the lone striker. This wasn’t as successful, as his diminutive size is not suited to holding the ball up like a target man.
One other problem is that the manager does not include traditional wingers in his formation. Players like Lamela and Heung-Min Son have had to adapt their game to cutting inside and playing more narrow. Likewise, N’jie must be able to suit this new formation.
With the attributes that he has, he surely will be able to find a role in this Spurs side, as his explosive playing style is something that the team lacks. There doesn’t seem to be an exceptionally fast midfielder at Spurs. Therefore, he can add pace to the game when needed.
N’Jie needs to get playing time to prove his worth. He has to get past the likes of Lamela, Nacer Chadli, Son, Christian Eriksen and even Joshua Onomah. Pochettino has always given his players chances to show their worth, so N’Jie won’t have to worry about getting on the pitch, but it won’t be easy to displace the players who have shone in the first team this season.
Chadli has lacked sharpness and has struggled with his own injuries; Onomah is an emerging talent for the club and is eager to impress. Both players will give some good competition for N’jie, who will have to prove himself just as hungry to overcome injury or to break into the first team ahead of a youth academy player. This competition is incredibly healthy for all players involved, and it will help the team massively.
Spurs edge closer and closer to consolidating their return to the Champions League. Instead of fielding a weaker, rotated side in the Europa League, Pochettino will have to rotate his squad so that there is a quality starting eleven for midweek and weekend matches. This means that N’Jie will definitely get some quality match time, whether in the Champions League or Premier League.
The Champions League could act as a catalyst for his development, blooding him against the best in Europe to accelerate his return to football. Pochettino needs quality players like him to bolster his squad number, to better rotate the team. There aren’t many better squad players a manager can have than Clinton N’Jie.