Tottenham “Fringe” Players With Opportunity

FLORENCE, ITALY - FEBRUARY 18: Son Heung-Min of Tottenham Hotspur in action during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 first leg match between Fiorentina and Tottenham Hotspur at Stadio Artemio Franchi on February 18, 2016 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)
FLORENCE, ITALY - FEBRUARY 18: Son Heung-Min of Tottenham Hotspur in action during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 first leg match between Fiorentina and Tottenham Hotspur at Stadio Artemio Franchi on February 18, 2016 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images) /

Dele Alli will most likely miss all three of the remaining matches for Tottenham, while Eric Dier, at minimum, will miss one. How will the club address this?

While this is certainly a disappointing blow to the Tottenham lineup, it does present an interesting opportunity for certain “fringe” players to make an important mark going into what could be a busy off-season at White Hart Lane.

The first of those fringe players are Ryan Mason and Tom Carroll. With Eric Dier likely to miss one match while recovering from a concussion, the midfield pivot will need to be readjusted. To expect Mason or Carroll to fill in at Dier’s position is unreasonable. Neither of them have the playing style or the strength to do exactly what he does. The most likely solution for this problem would be to slide Mousa Dembélé back into Dier’s role, and then to allow Mason or Carroll to play in a more advanced position.

While neither of these two midfielders have particularly shined during this campaign, this could be a last chance to show Mauricio Pochettino, and the supporters, exactly what they bring to the table, however for different reasons. In Carroll’s case, this is an opportunity for him to show that he belongs in the first team rotation and can play solid Premier League minutes against quality opponents. Tottenham will most likely bring in midfield cover during the summer window and Carroll knows that he is not going to be a Premier League or Champions League regular. But a good performance against Chelsea or Southampton (or even Newcastle depending on the circumstances on the last day) could push his name to the top of the midfield rotation list.

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The situation for Ryan Mason, however, is less promising. It is not a stretch to say that he struggled in the midfield last year. It is not a stretch to say that he hasn’t impressed when he has come on this season. And it is not a stretch to say that he could find a new home this summer.

This could be the last chance for Ryan Mason in a Tottenham shirt.

If Pochettino decides to give Ryan Mason valuable minutes over the course of the next three games, it is absolutely imperative that he takes advantage of them to either secure himself a favorable move during the summer, or to keep himself in North London for another year. Should things go poorly for the Enfield man, it could be the end of his time at his boyhood club.

Replacing the PFA Young Player Of The Year is not easy. Alli has been a sensation this year and has been instrumental in Tottenham’s charge up the Premier League table. He has, however, had this punishment coming for some time. Tottenham supporters have seen this kind of behavior before, most notably in his kick out against Fiorentina. Perhaps this punishment will end this kind of behavior moving forward, but for the time being the hope is that his absence can me mitigated by some combination of three players looking to end their season on high note: Heung-min Son, Nacer Chadli, and Clinton Njie.

The narrative is stale by now: Son started well, Son got hurt, Son has struggled to find his form. This is Son’s last chance to put a different ending on that story. Assuming that Pochettino shifts Eriksen back into the number 10 role, Son would be the first choice off of the bench to occupy the vacated position. There’s no chance of him going anywhere during the summer window, he was purchased for £22 million just last year and Daniel Levy and Pochettino know the quality and pressing pedigree he brings to the side. That being said, his struggles of late have to be wearing on him mentally. Finishing the season on a high note could make the off-season much less stressful for Son and help him start the 2016/2017 campaign on the right foot.

Related Story: Tottenham Monitoring Eric Dier Concussion

Nacer Chadli has been an interesting case this season. After being an almost regular starter last season, Chadli has seemingly found himself a role as an impact substitute. The question remains, however, how does he feel about that role? If he is content playing there and playing on a Champions League team, then fine, things work out quite well. But Nacer Chadli is good enough to start somewhere else. Therefore, any time he gets in the final three matches could either be a chance for him to show the manager that he has what it takes to start in north London, or to show other teams that he is still very capable and ready to put in work in a different shirt.

Or, he uses these minutes to cement himself in an impact sub role. It seems that the decision is mostly in his hands at this point.

Lastly, Njie has had an interesting season. Having seven substitute appearances in the Premier League, two starts and one substitute appearance in the Europa League, Njie has looked promising but hasn’t blown anyone away. It’s disappointing that his season was cut so drastically short via injury and that supporters still don’t know exactly what to expect out of the 22-year-old Cameroonian. If he ends up fit enough to get some minutes in the coming weeks, it will at the very least give everyone a brief reminder of why he cost Tottenham £8.3 million.

Next: How Do Spurs Cope Without Alli?

The last three matches against Chelsea, Southampton, and Newcastle are not “throw away” games. Tottenham need to find a way to take 3 points from each of them and lock up second place. While the league table is always priority number one, there are other story lines at play here that will help to dictate the club’s plan for the summer.

A dismal showing in May would leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth going into the off-season, Tottenham need to make sure this miracle season is not remembered by what happens in the final three games.