Inside Lane: Four Spurs young stars who are in line for promotion under Sherwood

07:45 09 January 2014

Nabil Bentaleb

Nabil Bentaleb

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Tottenham blogger Chris Miller expects that Nabil Bentaleb, Milos Veljkovic, Harry Kane and Tom Carroll will get more first-team opportunities now that Tim Sherwood has replaced Andre Villas-Boas as head coach.

At the end of October I wrote an article in this column bemoaning the lack of opportunities for the likes of Nabil Bentaleb and Milos Veljkovic under our previous head coach, Andre Villas-Boas.

Just a couple of months on, Bentaleb started in the centre of our midfield away at Arsenal under the new man, Tim Sherwood - and Veljkovic has also been seen on the bench for the first time in his Tottenham career, as Sherwood has shown faith in the young talent that he oversaw until recent events transpired.

Nineteen-year-old Bentaleb’s performance against Arsenal gave fans a glimpse of what he is about; economical in possession - attempting more passes (82) than any player on the pitch, at a better completion rate (93%) - but with a hot-headedness that he needs to cut out of his game.

He did not push forward as much as he has done for the Under-21 side, but that was down to the role in which he was deployed.

With Sandro injured and Etienne Capoue not fit enough to play from the start, Bentaleb was the designated holding player and so rarely ventured into the final third.

Eighteen-year-old Serbian Veljkovic is next in line for a promotion to the first team. The talented centre-back, who often played in central midfield for the Under-21s under Sherwood, has been on the bench twice recently (against West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City). And, with Younes Kaboul and Jan Vertonghen still out injured, he will more than likely get an opportunity to make his debut in the near future.

Alongside these two, I would anticipate that Tom Carroll (who is expected to be recalled from his loan at QPR) and Harry Kane will be more involved under Sherwood.

The quartet were lynchpins for the Under-21s, and shone at that level. Kane and Carroll developed a wonderful understanding, playing some superb one and-two touch football, whilst Bentaleb and Veljkovic took to the tempo of the Under-21 Premier League very quickly for such young players.

While the four of them boast very different physiques, temperaments and styles, they all have one thing in common - excellent technique. All four are capable of getting the ball down and playing in an unfussy, unhurried and progressive way.

Kane is seen by many as a target man based purely on his height, but he is actually best suited to playing as a No10 - think of him as a modern-day Teddy Sheringham, who likes to play quick, clever passes around the edge of the box.

While Bentaleb played as a holding midfielder against Arsenal, where he was mostly asked to keep the ball ticking over, he has a very capable left foot and an accomplished range of passing.

Carroll, as we know, likes to keep the ball (and himself) moving quickly and to play triangles around the opposition midfield, and Veljkovic is very capable of carrying the ball out of defence and being a playmaker from the back line.

While many were sad to see Villas-Boas depart, the appointment of Sherwood will have brought smiles to the faces of these young players, who should now find themselves far more involved.

Follow me on Twitter @WindyCOYS


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