Spurs’s pre-season tour of Australia has given fans reason to be excited. Although they lost 2-1 to Juventus, the champions of Italy and 1-0 against Atlético Madrid the Champions League runners-up, three Tottenham Hotspur youngsters showed real promise.
The results are not important at this stage. They never are in friendly matches, although fans are always hoping for morale-boosting victories. These games were more about fulfilling corporate commitments for the clubs. But for the coaches it is about getting the players fit and ready for the demanding season ahead.
For Mauricio Pochettino, it was a chance to blood in his two new signings in Victor Wanyama and Vincent Janssen, as well as showcase many of the young players making their way through the Tottenham academy. With many players on an extended break due to Euro 2016, it was a case of needs must. However, Pochettino has never been afraid to throw in a young player when he feels he is ready. You only have to look at Dele Alli, but also Josh Onomah who played on occasion last season.
Tottenham Hotspur Youngsters – Three to Watch
There were some good performances from the youngsters in Australia. Three in particular will be looking for some first-team action this season, perhaps in the cup competitions initially. It is just as likely that Pochettino may send some out on loan in order to acquire more experience. Nevertheless, there is evident talent in these players that makes them ones to watch.
Carter-Vickers has been in the Tottenham set up since the age of 11. Eligible to play for the USA due to his American father (former NBA player Howard Carter), he soon came to the attention of the USMNT set up. He has represented them at Under 18, Under 20 and Under 23 level. Carter-Vickers represented the USA at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2015 despite only being 17 years of age at the time.
Just 18 years of age, he acquitted himself very well in these friendlies. Against opposing forwards like Fernando Torres and Paulo Dybala, he overcame early nerves to play very well. He has the size and technical ability to compete and will be primed for further development under Pochettino’s tutelage.
Of course Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are locked in as the team’s starting centre-back pairing. Kevin Wimmer proved an able deputy during Vertonghen’s injury absence last season and has recently signed an extended contract with the club. Beyond this, it would seem that Carter-Vickers could negate the need for a further foray into the transfer market at this position for Tottenham. He appears to be ready for a back-up role at the club. As the other candidate for central defensive cover, Eric Dier, seems to have cemented his future in a central midfield role, this is an ideal discovery.
Winks is another product of the academy system at Tottenham Hotspur. He has represented England at every level from U17 to U20. Winks recently captained the England U-20 team in a 2-1 loss against Canada last month.
Aged 20 now, he has over the last two seasons been on the fringes of the first team squad and made his senior debut in November 2014, coming on as a late substitute in a Europa League tie against FK Partizan at White Hart Lane. He made two further Europa league appearances in 2015-16, but is yet to make his Premier League debut.
This is no surprise given the number of midfield players ahead of him. As he matures and with Tottenham now about to embark on just their second outing in the Champions League, opportunities may arise for him. It would be fair to assume that Pochettino will be looking to rotate the squad more this season. This could mean that Winks gets his chance.
Unlike the younger Onomah who is able to play further up the field and off the wide areas, Winks likes to play more centrally. This means he has to compete with Moussa Dembélé, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Ryan Mason. With Nabil Bentaleb being told that he is not part of Pochettino’s future plans, Winks may get his chance. Spurs offered him an extended contract in March of this year, just a few months after he signed an extension. Proof perhaps of how highly Pochettino and the club value him.
If ever the term “don’t get ahead of yourselves” was apt it probably applies to Tottenham fans’ expectation of this young man. Widely regarded as a special talent both inside and outside of the club, he is one that needs to be treated with kid gloves at the moment. Pochettino himself was quick to point this out in the post-match press briefing after the Juventus game.
After stalling on signing a new contract with the club, Edwards finally put pen to paper earlier this month. Rumours abound that there were assurances given about including Edwards in the first team squad in order for him to sign but no doubt Pochettino will manage him as he deems appropriate.
A diminutive attacking player, he has a mesmerising left foot and good speed and balance. His frame means that, as in the Juventus game, he can still be knocked off the ball. However, he is still young and will adapt to this professional environment with more games. Suffice to say he has been head and shoulders above most opponents at academy level so far despite his size. The step up that he craves will no doubt speed up his progress.
Edwards is only 17 and has represented England at every level from U-16 to U-18. He scored seven goals in nineteen appearances for Tottenham’s U-18’s last season. There is no question that he is working with the right coach in Pochettino. But both the club and the player will need to show patience in his development if he is to truly realise his potential. If he does, then this player can become very special indeed.