Tottenham bench and academy players expected to face Barnsley

ORLANDO, FL - JULY 22: Tashan Oakley-Boothe
ORLANDO, FL - JULY 22: Tashan Oakley-Boothe /

Tuesday marks Tottenham’s entry into the EFL Cup with a third round matchup against Championship side Barnsley. Don’t expect a thriller.

Even when pitted against the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool, Tottenham under Mauricio Pochettino has rarely taken the competition — this year rebranded as the “Carabao Cup” — all that seriously.

There’s good reason for this. The EFL Cup represents easily the fourth most important competition Spurs will be involved in this season, trailing behind the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

This isn’t idle speculation either. Particularly this year, Pochettino has not held back with his thoughts about the competition.

As quoted by ESPN:

"“The project here at Tottenham is to try to win the Premier League or the Champions League. For me, that is the two big trophies.“OK, I would love to win the Carabao Cup or the FA Cup for our fans, but Tottenham must build a project with the possibility to fight for Champions League or Premier League. Sorry, first of all the Premier League and then the Champions League. If we are going to try to win Carabao Cup or FA Cup, and forget the Premier League or Champions [League], it’s a big mistake.“I think what it means for a big team to win trophies is to win the Premier League or Champions League. There are a lot of examples: in my second season at Southampton, Wigan won FA Cup. Where is Wigan today, with all my respect? League One. That is the most important example.“Of course I would like to win trophies, but first of all we’ll fight for the Premier League or the Champions League.”"

None of which should come as a surprise. Tottenham are going to have a hard enough time this season balancing Premier League matches on the weekends with midweek Champions League duties. A competition that puts them against the likes of Barnsely — currently 20th in the Championship — is hardly worth it by comparison.

So what does that mean for Tottenham on Tuesday? It should mean that almost all of Spurs’ first choice XI get rested. Pochettino’s squad isn’t so deep as to rotated out everyone involved in the last week’s worth of matches against Everton, Borussia Dortmund and Swansea, but rest assured that he would keep those players out of the matchday squad entirely if he could.

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The match will mean a lot more to the fringe or bench players who take to the Wembley pitch on Tuesday evening. For players like Georges-Kévin Nkoudou, Juan Foyth and Harry Winks, these kinds of matches serve as auditions for further involvement in Spurs’ more important competitions.

Pochettino appears set to grant starts to some promising members of the Academy as well. Tashan Oakley-Boothe got a surprising number of minutes in Spurs’ preseason, and looks set to be included in the matchday squad on Tuesday. So too should the likes of left-back Anthony Georgiou and striker Shayon Harrison.

One name that we know won’t be included on the teamsheet is that of Marc Edwards. The much-hyped young prodigy is performing well in Spurs’ developmental squad, but Pochettino is reluctant to bring him into the first team after his struggles with injury last season.

Next: Tottenham are deeper than they look

The nearly wholesale turnover in the squad shouldn’t, therefore, diminish Spurs’ intensity. Even if the EFL Cup trophy isn’t all that prized, it still represents a great opportunity for many of the club’s peripheral players.