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Spurs youngsters need to see homegrown heroes in first team, says Ferdinand

Les Ferdinand (right) on the touchline at Southampton Les Ferdinand (right) on the touchline at Southampton

Thursday, January 30, 2014
12:25 PM

EXCLUSIVE: Les Ferdinand believes it is vital that Tottenham’s youngsters see homegrown players in the first team as the Under-18s prepare to take to the field in the FA Youth Cup tonight.

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Nabil BentalebNabil Bentaleb

Spurs’ juniors face London rivals Fulham in the fourth round at Dagenham and Redbridge FC, kicking off at 7pm.

The club’s next generation may well have been disillusioned about their long-term futures at the club after seeing three academy graduates leave the club in the summer due to a likely lack of playing time.

Steven Caulker was sold to Cardiff, while Jake Livermore and Tom Carroll were loaned to Hull and QPR respectively as Tottenham spent over £100million on foreign stars.

However, Danny Rose and Andros Townsend have been first-team regulars this season, and the new management team have also promoted 19-year-old Nabil Bentaleb, who got his fourth conseuctive start in last night’s clash with Manchester City.

Ferdinand feels that will give huge encouragement to those who are trying to catch the eye in the development squad.

“I think it’s extremely important for our young players to see that,” said the coach. “For you to believe you have a chance at a football club you’ve got to see your peers or the people that have gone before you getting an opportunity.

“In the past we went out and spent a lot of money in the summer, so if you’re in that development squad you’re thinking you’ve got no chance of playing, and that can’t be right for the club.

“Players have to believe that they’ve got a chance of playing in your first team, otherwise what’s the point of them being here?

“What we have [as a management team] is a knowledge of what’s in that development squad at the moment, and we’ll continue to have that.

“If you’ve got the knowledge of what’s going on in that development squad then you can identify whether players will be good enough for your first team.

“We understand that these boys can’t come from the development squad and become first-team regulars straight off - sometimes they need to be dipped in and out. It’s about finding the right games for that, but what they need is an opportunity.”

Tottenham have invested £45million in building a new training facility which functions as an academy as well as a first-team base.

They demonstrated the talent in their youth section by reaching the final of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League last term – where they lost 3-2 to Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Tonight’s FA Youth Cup tie could be viewed as another barometer of the talent in Spurs’ youth section – but Ferdinand feels the competition has limited importance.

“People used to get an idea that if you won the FA Youth Cup or if you won this or that [youth] league then you’re doing well as a youth team,” he said.

“You can win as many youth cups as you like and win as many leagues as you like, but if you’re not producing players who are going into your first team, what does that mean? Where do those players go to if they’re not coming into your first team?

“Surely the whole point of having a youth development squad and an Under-21s squad is to be trying to produce players to go into your first team.

“Otherwise you have to do what this club has done and what a lot of other clubs do - go out and buy players. What’s the point in having a development squad then?

“I don’t buy into the idea that because your team wins in the FA Youth Cup you must have a great crop of players coming through, because if you look at when we were winning FA Youth Cups and things like that in the past, how many of those players went on and played in Tottenham’s first team? That would be the question.”

Ferdinand added: “We’ve got a lot of players around, and we’ve got a very big [first-team] squad so it’s difficult to bring younger players through at the moment.

“When you look at the squad that we’ve got, if you’re trying to keep everybody happy then you’re going to look at opportunities to give them a game as well.

“When it’s right to bring youngsters in we’ll do it, whether it’s in Europe, in the league or wherever it may be. If we think the kid’s good enough and done well enough then he’ll get an opportunity at some stage.”

Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs

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