Tottenham: Checking in on Steven Caulker, David Bentley and Spurs' Other Loanees
While we all know what is going on with Spurs' domestic first team, there are other Tottenham players currently on-loan plying their trade in various leagues around the world and in the various levels of English football.
Loans have become a huge developmental tool throughout the entirely of their existence, and Tottenham is looking to take full advantage of that this season with multiple players on loan.
Some promising prospects, as well as some troubled veterans, are all amongst those taking some time to learn and grow elsewhere, with David Bentley and Jermaine Jenas among the more high-profile players to have been sent out.
Some players have made very successful starts to their spells at their loan clubs, while others have not been so successful, as they all try to impress on the pitch to earn their way back into Tottenham's first-team squad.
Credit goes to Thomas Atzenhoffer for the article concept.
Steven Caulker is one of the brightest talents to come through the Tottenham youth system in recent years. Tottenham have been careful to ease Steven Caulker into higher-level football, working him up from the U-16 team to the U-18 team and finally the reserve team.
Since 2009, when Caulker signed his first professional contract with Spurs, Caulker has been sent on loan to League One side Yeovil Town and then Championship side Bristol City and now Premier League side Swansea City. At Yeovil and Bristol City, Caulker managed to establish himself as a starter and is looking to do the same with Swansea.
Thus far, Caulker has started in Swansea City's first four Premier League matches, but unfortunately, suffered a knee cartilage injury following the Arsenal game that is expected to rule him out for about eight weeks.
Nevertheless, Caulker has looked excellent for Swansea and will almost surely regain his starting spot at Swansea when fit once again. He has also performed well for the English U-19 and U-21 teams and is developing at a very impressive rate.
Bottomline: Steven Caulker looks like the real deal. When he returns to Spurs for the 2012-13 season, I have almost no doubt that he will be a starter or at least a regular for Spurs at the back and will provide a massive boost to our often fragile depth and talent at the center-back position.
Kyle Naughton isn't a homegrown talent like Steven Caulker, but he is still a highly-valued talent at Tottenham.
Bought from Sheffield United in July 2009 along with Kyle Walker, Naughton has slowly been eased into life at Tottenham. He spent last season on loan at Leicester City, where he scored an impressive five goals as a right back, and was picked for the Championship Team of the Year.
Now at Norwich, Kyle Naughton's talent has not gone unnoticed, and he has started the last six games for the team at right-back, performing solidly at the back.
With the emergence of Kyle Walker this season at Tottenham and Vedran Corluka remaining at the club as his backup, Naughton may struggle to get games next season, but I fully expect him to remain at the club and to get his opportunities to shine in due time.
I never really understood the move to buy Bongani Khumalo. I believe, at the time, there were concerns that Tottenham's defense, or its center-backs in particular, were not good enough, but Khumalo, having never played outside of South Africa, was never going to be the answer.
So why was a deal made to sign the guy? Was it for sponsorship purposes? That theory would make sense, since Tottenham did end going to South Africa this summer for its preseason tour.
Whatever the reasons, Khumalo did not make appearances for Tottenham after being bought in January and was sent out on loan to Preston North End in March. He made six starts with the club, even recording an assist, before returning to Tottenham and subsequently going back out on loan to Reading.
At Reading, Khumalo started Reading's first four games of the season but has missed the rest with injuries and dental issues. He is expected to return to the starting lineup, or at the least the squad, following the international break.
By the time Khumalo returns to Tottenham, he will be 25, and will have at least Caulker, Younes Kaboul, Michael Dawson, William Gallas and Ledley King ahead of him in the pecking order at Tottenham. Personally, I can't see him breaking into the team with all those names ahead of him.
Again, I can't understand why Tottenham bought him. If anyone has an explanation, please do share.
Nathan Byrne joined Tottenham as a youth player and signed professional forms for the club in 2010 upon turning 18. He spent the second half of the 2010-11 season with Brentford, making 11 appearances for the club, most of which came as a substitute.
Now on loan at AFC Bournemouth, Nathan Byrne has made 11 appearances in all competitions for the club, starting every league match for the club so far.
Byrne has a long road ahead of him but seems to be maturing well and should earn himself a loan move next season to a bigger club if he keeps performing at an adequate level. He currently plays as a right-back or right-midfielder.
Ryan Mason is a very promising talent developed in Tottenham's youth system. In his first season as professional for Tottenham, Mason topped the academy scoring sheets with 29 goals in 31 games.
Mason followed that up with a very successful loan spell at Yeovil Town, alongside with fellow Tottenham youth products Steven Caulker and Jonathan Obika. He scored six goals and recorded five assists as a attacking midfielder before being recalled to Tottenham.
Since then, Mason development has stalled just a bit. Mason had two different loan spells with Doncaster Rovers in 2010-11, making only 15 appearances in them, most of them coming as a substitute.
He has been loaned back out to Doncaster Rovers for the 2011-12 season, with the hope that he can recapture the massive potential he showed at Yeovil. So far, he has looked solid, with a goal and two assists in one league cup game and one league game, but his ankle ligament injury has kept him injured for most of the season.
Hopefully, Mason can recover and perform well at Doncaster Rovers to get his career back on track.
Jonathan Obika, at only the age of 21, has already made himself into somewhat of a journey man, having played for five clubs in the span of two years.
Like Caulker and Mason, Obika was fairly successful at Yeovil, his first loan club, but could not quite establish himself at Millwall, Crystal Palace, Peterborough United or Swindon Town successively.
Obika eventually returned to Yeovil for the end of the 2010-11 season and is now back there for the start of 2011-12 season.
With all the failed loan spells, I can't see Obika breaking into the Tottenham first-team squad and expect him to eventually find a loan club he is comfortable with and to sign permanently with them.
Who knew Tottenham had so many youth products?
Adam Smith is a homegrown youngster who's career has gone well so far. Loan spells with Wycombe Wanderers, Torquay United and AFC Bournemouth have all gone as planned and helped Smith develop at a good, constant rate.
He now is playing at MK Dons and will likely find himself on loan to a better club next season if he continues to develop.
Adam Smith has also been regularly involved with England through the various age level international teams. So far, he has played for the U16, U17, U19 and U20 teams and was recently capped for the U21 team.
David Button is the definition of a journeyman. In the 2008-09 season alone, he went out on five different loan spells.
Since then, Button has stabilized his career a bit, becoming first choice keeper for Shrewsbury Town and Plymouth Argyle in 2009-10 and 2010-11 respectively.
This season, Button has made the step up from League Two to League One, and will be looking to become Leyton Orient's starting goalkeeper.
As for Button's Tottenham future, I don't see him really having one. Despite his 31 England age group caps, I expect Button to settle down at a small League One club when his contract with Tottenham expires.
If he's really fortunate though, he may have a shot at becoming Tottenham's third choice keeper in the future.
After six seasons of dedicated service to Tottenham, Jermaine Jenas was loaned out to Aston Villa this summer as he became surplus to requirements at White Hart Lane.
An Achilles injury has unfortunately prevented Jermaine Jenas from making any appearances for Tottenham as of yet, but he is reportedly nearing full fitness.
Upon being declared fit, Jenas will likely be called upon to help a midfield which could use an upgrade from the inconsistent performances of Stephen Ireland and Fabian Delph.
The first headline that popped up for me when I type David Bentley's name into Google News was the following: "Bentley sitter costs Hammers win over bitter rivals in stalemate."
The second headline that popped up for me was this: "David Bentley to have surgery for knee injury."
It's probably safe to say David Bentley's start to his season with West Ham has not been too great.
To be fair though, it hasn't been awful. Sam Allardyce has defended David Bentley in the media this season over criticism about his career and claims that Bentley is "quietly rediscovering his form and love of the game" with West Ham.
We'll see. He hasn't looked amazing in the five games he's played for West Ham, and now looks likely to be sidelined for an extended period of time...not a good start for someone looking to ressurect his career.