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Inside Lane: Who is Tottenham’s latest debutant, Milos Veljkovic?

Milos Veljkovic came off the bench to make his Tottenham debut against Sunderland at White Hart Lane on Monday night Milos Veljkovic came off the bench to make his Tottenham debut against Sunderland at White Hart Lane on Monday night

By Chris Miller
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
11:59 AM

Tottenham blogger Chris Miller tells you all you need to know about 18-year-old Serbian Milos Veljkovic, who came off the bench to make his first Spurs appearance against Sunderland on Monday.

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Having been on the substitutes bench six times, Milos Veljkovic finally made his Tottenham debut against Sunderland, appearing in the 88th minute as Tim Sherwood found his side in a commanding enough position to risk another young player taking to the pitch.

Veljkovic is an 18-year old Serbian who we picked up from FC Basel nearly three years ago. At the time, he was mostly playing as a centre-back, but he has since been converted to a deep-lying midfield player for our Under-21s, such is his ability on the ball.

It could be that his lack of height – he may be a fraction under 6ft – led to Spurs’ academy hierarchy deciding that his future lies in midfield rather than defence, and he replaced Paulinho on Monday. But that has not stopped his country using him at centre-back, and this season he has made five starts for Serbia’s Under-19s in that position.

Veljkovic played in the recent Under-21 win over Arsenal at White Hart Lane, but he had a relatively quiet match as Arsenal rarely threatened. His job was mostly to give the ball to his more creative team-mates and do the necessary dirty work to stop any counter-attacks.

He is a progressive player who is equally capable of carrying the ball out of defence, or play-making from deep midfield. His head is always up, he wants the ball to go through him, and he wants to create triangles and move it on quickly and simply, using either foot – but mostly his right.

Alongside this, he boasts a sturdy enough frame to allow him to cope with the physical rigours of the Premier League and give himself sufficient time on the ball.

This season he has made 13 appearances in the Under-21 Premier League, clocking up over 1,000 minutes. But, as academy manager John McDermott pointed out last week, it is league games that really count.

“As good as it was to play Arsenal’s Under-21s at White Hart Lane – and I thought there was a real buzz to play in a local derby – we think it’s really important that our young players go and play out at the coal face,” said McDermott.

Veljkovic would, presumably, have been wanted by many clubs had he been available on loan, which surely indicates that Tim Sherwood and his coaching team wanted to keep him around the first-team squad because they see him as being ready to step up – so perhaps we will see more of him in the last few games.

Follow me on Twitter @WindyCOYS

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