December 4 2013 Latest news:
By Chris Miller
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
With Andros Townsend and Kyle Walker both signing long-term contracts this month, Tottenham blogger Chris Miller discusses the club’s youth development and the pathway to the first team under Andre Villas-Boas.
When Andre Villas-Boas was appointed as Tottenham’s head coach, the club released a statement of intent with regards to bringing through young players.
Daniel Levy said: “Andre shares our long-term ambitions and ethos of developing players and nurturing young talent, and he will be able to do so now at a new world-class training centre.”
Two weeks ago, 22-year-old academy graduate Andros Townsend signed a new long-term contract, committing himself to Spurs until 2017 – and 23-year-old Kyle Walker followed suit this week, extending his stay until 2019.
Both have been regulars for Spurs this season, as was 23-year-old Danny Rose, until his season was disrupted by injury.
With much of the press focusing on young, English talent not getting a chance to flourish in the Premier League, Villas-Boas has retained and utilised some of the homegrown talent that Harry Redknapp had attempted to integrate.
As well as those mentioned, Harry Kane, 20, and Zeki Fryers, 21, have been involved too - notably in the cup competitions - while Kevin Stewart, also 20, travelled to Moldova for last week’s Europa League match against Sheriff Tiraspol.
Yet I would argue that Villas-Boas could have gone even further with his use of young players.
For me, Kane should have played more often in Europe, and Tom Carroll might not need to have been loaned out just yet - instead getting games in these early European games. The likes of Jordan Archer, Milos Veljkovic and Nabil Bentaleb might well have seen some involvement as well.
Bentaleb, who is a regular for the Under-21s at the tender age of 18, has also recently put pen to paper on an improved contract, which runs until 2018.
With Levy having been one of the fiercest advocates of increasing the substitute options from five to seven players, I would expect Spurs to at least have a few young players on the bench for the Europa League games – for the experience of being involved and even to bring on if we are winning games comfortably.
Exciting prospects like Veljkovic and Bentaleb could have been given a taste of first-team football to keep them interested and hungry. Including them in squads and giving them 10 or 15 minutes of exposure here or there could really aid their development, while also offering an incentive to other members of the youth ranks.
But young players are increasingly being brought through at a later stage, after loan exposure and with a ‘softly softly’ approach.
Rarely again will we see the likes of Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney or James Milner exploding onto the scene as 16-year olds - especially in the upper echelons of the Premier League, where the pressures are immense.
Spurs have too much to lose and the risk of blooding young players is great - hence why the talented Massimo Luongo was sold rather than utilised.
In that instance, I just hope we have a sell-on percentage agreed with Swindon Town, as he is destined for bigger things.
Follow me on Twitter @WindyCOYS