Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Youth Academy as good as it's been for a while

With news slow surrounding Spurs this morning I thought I'd make a change from my usual entries and write about the players coming through from our youth academy and look at their potential development plans for next season.

We'll start with 20 year old Steven Caulker, a lad who in his first season in the Premier League, on loan at Swansea City, has looked calm, assured and perfectly suited to this level. Loan spells at Yeovil Town and Bristol City proved fruitful with the centre back playing a key role with their battles to stay clear of the relegation zone. His best attributes are similar to Spurs Legend Ledley with pace, power and composure on the ball key aspects to his game. Having shown his class last season, he may find first team opportunities arising more often.

With 15 minutes to go against Fulham, Younes Kaboul's injury brought about the introduction of Adam Smith making his first league appearance at the age of 21. Smith has had loan spells at various clubs to aid his development across League Two, League One and more recently the Championship with Leeds United, and at every level has performed to a high standard. There is no doubt that Smith is unfortunate in that he plays at Right Back, a position we have congested over the last few years, making it very tough for Smith to get a chance. However with Corluka looking like he's played his last game for us and Hutton gone, Smith may get more of a chance next season, particularly in the cup competitions. If given the chance I believe he will continue to show his quality as a player and add to the squad.

Andros Townsend is another player to have taken advantage of the loan system having played his trade at multiple Football League clubs over the last 3 years culminating in his most recent spell at Birmingham City. In his spell at Birmingham Chris Hughton clearly seemed to have seen something in him, with Townsend becoming a first team regular. His style of play is very similar to Aaron Lennon, using his blistering pace and trickery to his advantage but he still needs to work on his delivery which is not currently up to Premier League standards. Another loan at a Championship/Lower Premiership club beckons, and it could be make or break for Townsend's Spurs career.

The Europa League brought about the introduction of many youth players to the first team but none stood out as much as young Tom Carroll. Impressive performances against PAOK Salonika, Rubin Kazan and Shamrock Rovers had us Spurs fans drooling at his potential, but a loan spell at Derby County seems to have held him back, with appearances a rarity due to his key attributes unnecessary for the Derby style of play. He's still some way off establishing himself at Spurs, so another loan spell at a more free flowing Championship side will definitely aid his development.

At the start of the season it looked like we had a new superstar striker in Harry Kane, with the striker having an impressive goalscoring record for the academy. A prolific pre-season further increased our hopes with 8 goals scored in just 6 appearances but his performances in the Europa League didn't live up to the high expectations. However we mustn't forget that the lad is only 18 years old still and his loan spell at Millwall brought a renewed confidence to his game and the goals have been flowing. With another Championship spell next season Kane could find his abilities improve further.

I've highlighted these five as they are the most likely to break through but with an academy also including David Button, Ryan Fredericks, Jake Nicholson, Massimo Luongo, Dean Parrett, Ryan Mason, Cameron Lancaster & Alex Pritchard, it looks like the future could be bright for the Spurs if the potential is reached.

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