Tottenham Hotspur's Youngsters Are Looking to Make Most of Pochettino Mandate

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Tottenham Hotspur's Youngsters Are Looking to Make Most of Pochettino Mandate
Stephen Brashear/Associated Press
Cristian Ceballos moves past Seattle Sounders' Jalil Anibaba during Tottenham Hotspur's 3-3 pre season draw.

Tottenham Hotspur's opening goal in Mauricio Pochettino's first match—a 3-3 draw with Seattle Sounders—was a product of the invention of two youth-team graduates.

Stephen Brashear/Associated Press
Harry Kane battles with Seattle's Osvaldo Alonso for the ball this past Saturday.

First up was Tom Carroll. Receiving the ball near the halfway line, he picked out Aaron Lennon darting in between two defenders from the left flank.

The winger's one-touch pass found Harry Kane, the second of our aforementioned youthful two. The striker controlled it, looked up, and then floated a sublime ball into the penalty box for Lewis Holtby to head in.

Carroll and Kane are two of a number of promising young players attempting to become first-team regulars at Tottenham this season.

The latter has more momentum after his positive run to end last season. His midfield team-mate's passing certainly caught the eye against Seattle, though, once again marking him out as a potential part of Pochettino's plan for Spurs' attack.

Tom Carroll—warming up prior to the Seattle match—caught the eye with his range of passing against the Sounders.

Both players will hope their progress is aided by the mandate to make the most of the club's youth-team resources Pochettino has seemingly been given.

In the official website statement announcing the Argentinian's appointment in late May, there were direct references to his previous work in this department. How he "oversaw the progress of home-grown stars" at Southampton, and the work he did at Espanyol "prioritising the development of young players from the side's youth setup."

Speaking to Sky Sports' Jim White a couple of days later, chairman Daniel Levy reinforced the club's desire for Pochettino to make use of the young players available to him:

"We have a man who knows the right balance between experience and youth—in the new world of financial fair play, that's very important."

Stephen Brashear/Associated Press
The indications are Mauricio Pochettino has been instructed to try and use the young players at his disposal at Spurs. It is arguably the most talented crop produced in over 30 years.

Carroll and Kane were not the only youth-team products or early-acquired young talent on display against Seattle. Andros Townsend was back marauding down the right-wing and Zeki Fryers played the first half at centre-back before switching to left-back after the interval.

However, perhaps more intriguing with regards to Pochettino's intentions moving forward was his use of those with even less first-team experience at Tottenham.

Although chiefly role-filling in the absence of the World Cup-involved first-teamers still away, their performances will still have been carefully evaluated by a coaching staff deciding if any of them are ready to contribute this season.

As he noted, right-back Ryan Fredericks enjoyed his first game back after last season's loan spell with Millwall.

The last time he was seen in a Spurs shirt was in in December's impressive second-half cameo against Anzhi Makhachkala in the Europa League. Here again, Fredericks was extremely confident going forwar—not surprising given he also plays in right midfield.

Paul Gilham/Getty Images
After an encouraging looking 2013-14 campaign, Ryan Fredericks will be attempting to build on that momentum this season.

Seattle found it hard to live with his pace, while his subsequent crossing caused problems. Defensively he still has much to prove, but his progress should be enough to keep the likely second-choice right-back Kyle Naughton on his toes.

The two Spanish attacking midfielders Cristian Ceballos and Iago Falque both spent time on loan in 2013-14 at Portuguese outfit Arouca and La Liga side Rayo Vallecano, respectively. Certainly in the case of the 24-year-old Falque, there is a feeling of now or never for him at Spurs.

Ceballos was involved from the onset against Seattle. Having seized an errant pass, he ran at the home team's defence and drilled a shot which was deflected wide. He kept at it throughout the half, ultimately lacking a bit of quality but certainly working hard.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
Iago Falque in action for Rayo Vallecano last season. This summer could be his last chance to make it at Spurs.

Ceballos' endeavour paid off in Falque's own best sequence (he was only on for 23 minutes rather than the full-half) when the former slid in to win the ball back off Djimi Traore and passed to his compatriot. Falque nutmegged Gonzalo Pineda before his attempted cross was handled by DeAndre Yedlin. He then coolly dispatched the resulting penalty to tie the game at 3-3.

Both Ceballos and Falque are skillful, eager attacker attacking midfielders. There might be room for one of them at Spurs, but it is difficult to envision both forcing their way in, or usurping Nacer Chadli, Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela, Holtby, Lennon or Townsend. Even then, they could require a degree of patience neither might be willing to accommodate any longer.

Another second-half substitute against Seattle, Ryan Mason, is facing a similar predicament. The 23-year-old has spent time on loan at five clubs since 2009 and is clearly rated well enough at Tottenham to have been kept around this long.

Stephen Brashear/Associated Press
Ryan Mason attempts to tackle former Spurs-teammate Clint Dempsey. The midfielder held his own against Seattle without especially standing out.

Mason was mostly comfortable in possession on Saturday, but had few opportunities in his half-hour to contribute much as the game's pace fluctuated later on. He will need more time in pre-season to help him convince his coaches he can break into a crowded Spurs midfield and find a niche.

Milos Veljkovic, the youngest of those involved this weekend at 18 years old, will be looking to build on his brief introduction to top-flight football last season.

Veljkovic followed up his debut against Sunderland with another substitute appearance in midfield against Aston Villa on the season's final day. At Seattle, the Serbian was deployed in another position familiar to him: central defence.

Writing about Veljkovic for the Tottenham & Wood Green Journal last season, Spurs academy expert Chris Miller talked about the "academy hierarchy deciding that his future lies in midfield rather than defence." But also noted "that has not stopped his country using him at centre-back."

Tom Dulat/Getty Images
Milos Veljkovic is evidently well-regarded at Tottenham and is a good candidate to make the breakthrough this season.

Last season's quick promotion to the senior team highlighted then-manager Tim Sherwood's belief in Veljkovic's ability. Pochettino will not gauge too much specifically from the player's sporadic involvement against Seattle, but he seems as strong a candidate as any to replicate the breakthroughs made by Kane and the still-vacationing Nabil Bentaleb last season—in what position exactly is unknown for now.

The players discussed in this article are all in varying stages of development.

They all have received tutelage—or progressed from placements—in Tottenham's development squads. Each are now looking to adapt their specific attributes to the diverse needs of the first-team under Pochettino.

The reality of Premier League football may force Spurs and Pochettino down a different path, but the indications in this fledgling point of his stewardship are that there has not been a more opportune time in recent years to be a young player at the club.

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