Inside Lane: The young stars to watch as Spurs’ next generation host Barcelona
Tottenham supporter Chris Miller looks ahead to tonight’s NextGen clash between Spurs’ Under-19s and Barca’s juniors at White Hart Lane.
Spurs took a lot from the inaugural NextGen Series last season, qualifying for the semi-finals before withdrawing due to ‘an accidental breach of a competition regulation’ – and it will surely only be a matter of time before we see the effect it will have had on those involved.
Indeed, Harry Kane has arguably already shown how much the pressure and exposure helped him, as he settled so quickly at Millwall in the second half of the season. Likewise, Massimo Luongo – one of the most consistent performers in last year’s tournament – is now receiving glowing reviews for his displays on loan at Ipswich.
Spurs’ Under-19s won 3-2 away at Wolfsburg in the opening group game of this season’s competition, with Shaquile Coulthirst and Ruben Lameiras coming off the bench and finding the net, while Alex Pritchard’s free-kick made it 3-1 before the hosts got a consolation.
Tottenham now face Barcelona at the Lane tonight, and a number of our future prospects will be well worth watching.
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Centre-back Milos Veljkovic is the youngest player in the squad at 16, but he has a strong physique and seems to exude experience beyond his years. He likes to bring the ball out of defence and has also played as a deep-lying midfielder.
Nabil Bentaleb, 17, also has huge potential. A talented, ball-playing midfielder, he seems to prefer playing centrally and likes to get his head up and look for clever forward passes. He is able to play as one of the two holding players in a 4-2-3-1 system, but will probably play as a number 10 against Barcelona tonight – as he did against Wolfsburg.
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Alex Pritchard is likely to be selected as one of our “over-age” players (three players born on or after January 1 1993 are allowed in a match day squad). The 19-year-old is a skilful attacking midfielder who generally plays on the left flank, but looks to come inside. He is also a set-piece specialist, and was my man of the match in the 7-1 thrashing of Inter Milan in last year’s group stage, when he scored twice, including one magnificent free kick.
Expected line-up v Barcelona (4-2-3-1): Vigouroux; A McQueen, Ball, Veljkovic, Stewart; Gallifuoco, Dombaxe; McEvoy, Bentaleb, Pritchard; Coulthirst
For more info on the young players follow me on Twitter @WindyCOYS or check out my blog at WindyCOYS.com.