How will league's new law affect the Lilywhites?

SPURS fans who have paid attention to the Premier League s new ruling, which limits the number of foreign players, will know that Tottenham have little to fear. The new law is complicated, but essentially every club will name a 25-man squad...

By Ben Pearce

SPURS fans who have paid attention to the Premier League's new ruling, which limits the number of foreign players, will know that Tottenham have little to fear.

The new law is complicated, but essentially every club will name a 25-man squad at the end of each transfer window, with a cap of 17 foreigners over the age of 21.

That means that at least eight senior players will have to be "home-grown" - registered at an English or Welsh club for three years before their 21st birthday.

The discussion points are infinite, and the inconsistencies at times hilarious.

Scottish international Alan Hutton, for example, is foreign despite being British - because he started at Rangers, who are neither an English or Welsh club.

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However Robbie Keane, a Republic of Ireland international and therefore definitely not British, is officially home-grown because he started his career at Wolves as a 17-year-old.

The same applies to Welshman Gareth Bale, who first signed for Southampton just before he turned 16.

However, in general the new rules will have little effect at White Hart Lane, and Harry Redknapp has admitted that fans are unlikely to see any difference in N17.

That is largely because Tottenham already boast an exemplary number of home-grown players, and used six Englishmen on Sunday - plus Keane.

In fact, if every club was ordered to start next season with an entirely "home-grown" match-day squad, Spurs would be able to field a strong-looking starting XI and five subs.

Meanwhile, the Lilywhites have just 11 over-21 foreigners in their senior squad, six less than their allocation under the new criteria.

In many ways, Redknapp and Tottenham will wish the Premier League's new selection criteria had been tougher, forcing their rivals to match their investment in British talent.

However, the plan had to be agreed by a vote between the 20 clubs, and anything stricter was therefore unlikely, and possibly illegal due to international employment laws.

Redknapp has revealed that some of his counterparts were against the new proposal anyway, but he doubts that Spurs will have any advantage over their rivals next August.

"I certainly know one or two people didn't feel that it was the way to go.," he said. "I'm sure the clubs will level it all out and make sure they don't get caught out.

"Man United have always produced good players, obviously they had that great spell with [Ryan] Giggs, [David] Beckham, [Paul] Scholes and [Nicky] Butt and all those lads."

The new rules seem to be particularly good news for Tottenham's youngsters, who reached the quarter-final of the FA Youth Cup last season, as clubs are allowed limitless Under-21 players.

However, Redknapp has warned junior Lilywhites like John Bostock and Danny Rose that they will not be walking into his squad or getting anywhere near the first team as a result of outside influences.

"The rule isn't a big problem for us, I think it's fine as long as the kids are good players and deserve to be in the squad. Just because they're born here doesn't mean [they should have an easy ride]," he said.

"I think Arsene Wenger brought up a good point at the league managers' meeting when he said 'what, are we going to produce good subs, because you've got to have so many in your squad or on the bench, or whatever, because they're English?'.

"They've got be good enough, that's the key. It would be ridiculous to say 'oh yes he's in the squad, he's going to play' when really he's nowhere near the standard that he should be. Are we going to end up with a product that's not as good as it should be?

"Those kids have got to get in there, work hard, practice and push to become worthy members of that squad, not just token members."

It seems that the new ruling, and Spurs' glut of home-grown senior players, is not good news for everyone at the Lane.

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