Friday, September 16, 2011

Tottenham's Young Players Earn Their Spurs

Young Players Do Themselves Proud in Europa League

Tottenham's first Europa League game was only three days before a crucial Premier League game against Liverpool at White Hart Lane on Sunday.  With injury worries, Harry Redknapp was determined to keep his senior players focused on that match without the distraction of travelling to Greece to play PAOK Salonika.  He sent out a squad with a number of young players who did themselves and the club proud in a hard earned scoreless draw.

18-man Match Day Squad
The eighteen players in the match day squad for the Europa League game consisted of  four players with international experience - Vedran Corluka (Croatia), Sebastien Bassong (Cameroon), Roman Pavlyuchenko (Russia) and Giovani Dos Santos (Mexico), and Premier League experience from Carlo Cudicini, Kyle Walker and Jake Livermore, although the latter two have limited appearances in League football for Spurs.  The other players were young players who were looking to gain from the experience of playing for the first team in an important, competitive European match.

Young Players
Kyle Walker
Kyle Walker (21) has only returned to Spurs having spent last season on loan with QPR and Aston Villa where he impressed with his attacking play from full back.  He has been called into the full England squad but has yet to make an appearance.  He is vying with experienced Vedran Corluka for the right back spot but has made a positive start in the games he has played this season.  Very quick when attacking on the right, he scored two goals for Villa last season, but needs to learn how to play with Aaron Lennon to get the best from him and also to improve defensively, especially that he isn't too cavalier in his attacking play, forgetting about his defensive duties.

Jake Livermore (21) made his League debut for Spurs in the game at Old Trafford.  It was a testing game for him in central midfield but he acquitted himself well and plays with confidence and has progressed well in the past year.  The arrival of Scott Parker meant he was a substitute against Wolves but he has become a part of the Tottenham squad and the European and Cup matches will provide him with excellent experience and opportunities to show his ability.

Andros Townsend (20) has played at full back in the last two European matches.  It is not his natural position, being an attacking winger, but he brings those qualities to the team and is constantly looking to take on his man and create attacking chances for the team.  He worked hard, covering a lot of ground during a game and wasn't found wanting in the defensive role.  When attacking he can run into dead-ends so needs to learn to release the ball earlier when his way is blocked.

Tom Carroll (19) went on loan to Leyton Orient last season.  He impressed in their League One team and made his debut in the home game against Hearts.  he is a busy player who looks for the ball and is constantly available to take a pass from a colleague.  His passing is good and for a lightly made up player he can cope with all the activity of midfield.  He tired towards the end of last night's game but that was only to be expected in such a competitive match.

Yago Falque (21) made his Tottenham debut in Greece and showed cleaver touches on the ball.  He had a good shot cleared off the line early on and a curling shot in the second half went just wide.  He is at the club on loan from Juventus for the coming season and looks a very promising player who will benefit from this experience.

Harry Kane (18) made his debut against Hearts and is the young player most tottenham supporters know about because of his goal scoring in the Academy teams and with Leyton Orient last season.  He is a strong lad and very competitive, he works hard and can play as a striker or drop back into midfield.  In the first half he played alongside Roman Pavlyuchenko where he had a header saved by the PAOK keeper and was unfortunate to be booked for diving when he should have had a penalty. After half-time he played wide on the left where he didn't contribute as much but he worked hard and covered back in defence as required.  Late on he had the confidence to take a free-kick which he hit with power but went just over the bar.  He, again, didn't receive much support from his striking partner so he would benefit from time in the team with a player who is more inclined to link up and play wit him as a striking partnership.

Ryan Fredericks (18) who made  his debut in the previous Europa league match replaced Falque on the right.  A very pacy winger, he needs to improve his decision making for the final ball.

Dean Parrett (19) made a return to first team football for the last few seconds of the game when replacing Giovani.  He had appeared in the previous Europa League campaign in 2008 - 09 but has been out on loan since then.  Just returning from injury, he played for the England U-20s team in the World Cup in Columbia during the summer.  A midfield player of whom much is expected he works hard and is skilful on the ball.  Needs match practice in the coming months to show his value to the club.

Jack Barthram (17) The youngest player in the squad, he is an attacking full-back and was a member of the Academy NextGen Series team which defeated Inter Milan 7 - 1 at Leyton Orient last month.

Kevin Stewart (17) A defender who can play at full back or in central defence, he captained the Academy team which won the Eurofoot tournament in Belgium during the summer.

Jake Nicholson (19) He made his debut as a substitute against Hearts and was very composed in midfield.

Alex Pritchard (18) An attacking midfield player,  he scored twice in the win over Inter Milan, including a great free-kick in the second half.

The team had an average age of 23 years and that included 38 year old goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini.  Leave out 38 year old Cuducini from the calculations and it is reduced to 21 years 6 months.  These games are an excellent experience for the young players and some will be hoping for another game on Tuesday at Stoke City in the Carling Cup and against Shamrock Rovers in the next Europa league game.  The manager sent out a balanced team with the experience in defence to support the younger players.  With a more experienced midfield player or a striker more inclined to work with his team mates, they might even have managed a win to reward their hard work and enthusiasm.  A good night for the young players who brought credit to the club for their disciplined performance against a difficult team with considerable experience in European competition.


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