Tottenham have a very talented group of young players progressing through the Academy at Under-18 level and with the Development squad in the Under-21 team. Both teams played recently and showed that they have not lost any of their zest for quality football over the festive period.
The FA Youth Cup is the top competition for the Under-18 age group. Tottenham defeated Cheltenham Town 1 – 0 in an away tie in the 3rd Round last month. Last night they overcame West Ham United at Upton Park by 5 – 2. The team scored three goals in the first half and while West Ham scored two goals, either side of half time, Spurs completed their win with two goals in the final fifteen minutes. Spurs goals were scored by Kenneth McEvoy (2), Roman Michael-Percil, Shaq Coulthirst and Grant Ward. The team included some players who have benefited from the experience of playing in the NextGen Series – Laste Dombaxe, Milos Veljkovic, Nabil Bentaleb and Joshua Onomah.
Tottenham’s Under-21 team qualified for elite section of the League after finishing top of their group with 23 points from 12 matches. They picked up only one point from their opening three matches but then turned it around with a 7 – 2 win over Stoke City. The next match ended in a 3 – 3 draw with Aston Villa and then followed a run of five consecutive wins which included success over Southampton (twice), Manchester United and Stoke. The run ended with a defeat at Sunderland but Spurs ensured their top place finish with a 3 – 0 win at Aston Villa. Spurs scored 42 goals, 12 more than the next highest scoring team, Liverpool in Group 3. The teams in Group 1 played an additional two games and the highest scoring team in that section was Reading with 26.
In the elite Section of the Barclay’s Under-21 Premier League, the team played their first match at Hotspur Way in snowy conditions two week ago. They recorded a 5 – 1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers who were second to Liverpool in Group 3. The goals were scored by Andros Townsend, Tom Carroll, Jon Obika (2) and Yago Falque. Spurs held the lead at half-time through Townsend and added a second midway through the half from Carroll. Wolves pulled one back only for Spurs to score three more in the final minutes. The team included Zeki Fryers, recently signed from Standard Liege, and Ryan Mason who experienced first team football earlier in the season. Jake Livermore played as an over-age player to improve his fitness.
Spurs were due to play at West Bromwich Albion on Monday but it had to be postponed due to the snow. That match has been re-arranged for 25th March and the team’s next match is scheduled for this coming Saturday at home to Southampton.
With so many young players available on their books, Spurs also arrange regular friendly matches for the Development squad. Their most recent game was against Peterborough United which resulted in a 8 – 1 win with Alex Pritchard scoring four. The team is made up of players who are too old for the Under-18 team and others who have been out on loan at League clubs. Dean Parrett played as did Nathan Byrne who was on loan with Crawley Town and Massimo Luongo who was in the Ipswich Town Championship team at the beginning of the season.
It is an interesting group of players with excellent skills as the younger players, like harry Kane and Tom Carroll, displayed when given an opportunity in the Europa League and Cup competitions over the past two seasons. Some may well go out on loan to lower League teams for the final months of the season to gain experience nd develop their all-round game in a fiercely competitive situation.
The big question surrounding all of these young players, however, is, “Can anyone make it into the first team on a regular basis?”
Over To You!
Who will be the next young player to be given an opportunity of first team football?