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Spurs’ stars of tomorrow

When Spurs finished fifth last season, Europa League football was guaranteed. Not the premier European competition, but a European competition nonetheless. However, Thursday night football isn’t the most appealing of thoughts and Harry Redknapp, rightfully, prioritised the league over Europe. Yet, it also gave fans the chance to see the likes of Tom Carroll, Jake Livermore and Harry Kane in action and even though it seems unlikely that Spurs will qualify from their group, seeing the youngsters has given us an insight into what to expect in the future.

Yet, as good as our knowledge can be, one man knows that little bit more. So, without further adieu,To the Lane and Back would like to introduce Windy and his analysis of the players coming through the ranks under Tim Sherwood and the stars of the NextGen series.

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Spurs’ young players have caught the attention a little more than usual this season, partly due to Redknapp involving some “unknowns” in the Europa League and Carling Cup but also due to the NextGen Series. The following is a run-down on some of the Under-19 players used in the NextGen Series so far:

Goalkeepers

Jonathan Miles, 18 – Had a good game against Inter Milan last week, and was also one of the star men against Basel when he excelled with some great saves, especially one with his legs towards the end of the match. Seems to be getting more pro-active with age, and is always very vocal.

Jordan Archer, 18 – He only played in the first NextGen Series match owing to his loan at Bishop’s Stortford, where he’s been performing consistently well. He is also a recent call up to the Scotland U21 squad, and will be looking for a league club to join on loan in January.

Defenders

Jack Barthram, 18 – Fast becoming a very competent attacking right-back, with good recovery pace and a fantastic attitude.  In the Basel home game he was up against a very physical opponent in substitute Sulejmani, but coped well throughout and made constant bursts forward when Pritchard tucked in (although was rarely picked out).

Milos Veljkovic 16 – A strong, composed centre half who plays like he is ten years older than he is; it’s hard to believe that he is the youngest player in the squad. It was good to see him get on the score-sheet against his former club, Basel, heading in at the back post.

Jake Nicholson, 19 – He has primarily played as a centre-back in the NextGen Series matches, despite being a holding midfield player by trade. He has been a steadying influence at the back, and someone who constantly talks to his team-mates – he will certainly be looking for a taste of league football over the next year.

Kevin Stewart, 18 – A versatile player who is often played at left back despite not being naturally left-sided. He can do a job anywhere along the back-line, although I personally think that he’s best at centre back, and that it would do him some good to get a prolonged run there. He’s another who I could see going out on loan, as he seems to have the maturity to cope with league football.

Daniel Day, 18 – A very enthusiastic and committed full-back, but he is occasionally reckless. He is one player who really helps to set the tempo, though, which is always needed at any level. He likes to make overlapping runs, which suits Tim Sherwood’s team shape.

Midfielders

Massimo Luongo, 19 – If you’ve read my reports before, you’ll know that I enjoy watching him play. Breaks up play, has good one and two touch passing, gets forward well, and is a strong, calm influence in the middle of the pitch. He made his first-team debut, coming off the bench in the League Cup game against Stoke, and unfortunately missed a penalty. I think he will get more chances this season – an impressive player, and one to watch.

Alex Pritchard, 18 – one of the stars of our NextGen Series team so far with some excellent performances, and he has also been an unused sub in two Europa League games. A real clever, quick-footed, schemer who is very dangerous when cutting in from the flank. His set piece delivery has also caused teams a lot of problems.

Laste Dombaxe, 17 – A player who was used in various positions as a 15 and 16-year-old in the Under-18s, but he now seems to have settled as a central midfield player. He has generally played more of a holding role, picking up the ball from the defence, and getting it into the feet of Pritchard and co. If he could add consistency to his performances, he could become a very useful player.

Ronnie Hawkins, 17 – He is a natural ball-player in the middle of midfield, so a little different in style to Luongo and Dombaxe. I could see Luongo going out on loan and, if he does, Hawkins could benefit with more games in the NextGen Series and for the Spurs XI.

Tomislav Gomelt, 16 – He had the most bizarre match in the home fixture against Inter, scoring three excellent goals and showing some good touches, movement and passing, but then unfortunately getting a harsh red card for the trip which lead to the penalty. He wasn’t so effective in the away leg, and was withdrawn at half time.

Forwards

Harry Kane, 18 – Often playing in midfield in the NextGen Series, Kane has been quietly effective without uprooting any trees. He has an ungainly style, but his touch is deceptively good and he has plenty of strength for one so young. He has scored goals at youth and reserve level, and also had a reasonable scoring record for League One side Leyton Orient last year. I think a lot of fans were expecting more from him in his Europa League showings, but it is important to remember that he is still very young and inexperienced – time is on his side.

Kudus Oyenuga, 18 – Involved in some of the NextGen Series games, and some Spurs XI games, Kudus will be looking for more league experience after he only got a few brief appearances at Bury. He is hard-working and strong, but for me he still doesn’t quite know when to release the ball, and he does make some odd decisions – Sherwood and Ferdinand both seem to focus a lot of their attention on him throughout matches.

Souleymane Coulibaly, 16 – For one so young, scoring three in the tournament so far is impressive. He is a work-horse, who does not stop running for the team, but often chooses to shoot when he has better options. In the Basel match he struggled a little against the impressive Kofi Nimely, but he did well to force the equaliser in the Inter Milan away match.

In terms of fast-track to the first team, it is difficult to say which players may or may not make a breakthrough at this point. Much depends on whether they can take an opportunity – perhaps in a cup match, or as a late substitute in the league. As we’ve seen with Tom Carroll this year, his consistent level of performance has led to him being involved more, and now being given a new contract. With a number of the players, I’d anticipate loan moves in January, which they should all see as a chance to catch the eye.

Windy has an excellent blog that focuses on goal analysis, loan reports and the youth-team squad and can be found here.

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