UEFA Cup: Tottenham Youngsters Given Chance To Impress

Chris PotterCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2008

A growing list of injuries and suspensions at White Hart Lane means that Harry Redknapp will have to rely on some of the club's more promising youngsters to ensure Tottenham's passage through to the last 32 of the UEFA Cup on Thursday night.

Two teenagers that will be given a chance to impress are midfielders Dean Parrett and John Bostock, who have been instrumental in the club academy's impressive run of just one defeat in 16 league and cup games this season.

Indeed the youngsters have scored 33 goals in their previous seven matches, which have included hat-tricks for winger Ryan Mason and striker Johnathan Obika—both of whom made late substitute appearances in the club's last UEFA Cup tie in Nijmegen last month.

While Obika and Mason are products of the Tottenham Academy, Bostock and Parrett were high-profile signings as both Crystal Palace and QPR respectively were left to lament the ease with which Premier League clubs can cherry pick precocious talents from lower league clubs at a tender age for a nominal fee.

Bostock, an elegant midfielder with a productive left foot, moved to North London in May for a fee that could rise from £700,000 to £2.1 million depending on appearances, with Crystal Palace receiving 15 percent of any transfer fee Spurs may receive for the player's services in the future.

Still 16, he made just a handful of appearances for Palace before Barcelona, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea decided to register their interest in the player. 

It says a lot for Tottenham's youth set-up that Bostock and his father chose to put their faith in John McDermott and Alex Inglethorpe, Tottenham's esteemed youth coaches.

Parrett, just 15 when Spurs signed him from QPR for £1.5 million, has drawn comparisons with Steven Gerrard for his style of play and the influence he has on matches.

With Jermaine Jenas and Giovani dos Santos injured, Zokora and O'Hara being forced to revert to defensive duties, and Kevin-Prince Boateng and Hossam Ghaly both ineligible, Bostock and Parrett are likely to see some action against Spartak Moscow and will be eager to prove to their manager that they have an immediate future at the club.

Their boss is Harry Redknapp after all—a manager who showed great confidence in youth in his days as West Ham United manager, where he helped Joe Cole, Rio Ferdinand, and Jermaine Defoe establish themselves as Premier League stars.

The abundance of talented young footballers on Tottenham's books and the restrictive nature of the January transfer window has led to chairman Daniel Levy suggesting that Harry Redknapp will have to make do with a couple of loan signings to plug the gaps in the defence and upfront.

His main remit, says Levy, is to maximise the potential of the current squad.

We will better see what that potential is on Thursday night as some of the club's fringe players and youth team are thrust into the limelight in a game that is more significant to Tottenham's season than the press may have you believe. 


Five Other Tottenham Youngsters Set To Make an Impact

Johnathan Obika, 18—a prolific striker setting the Premier League Academy alight

Dorian Dervite, 20—an imposing centre-back who has captained France's U17s side

Ryan Mason, 17—already a regular for England U18s on the left flank

Danny Rose, 18—a pocket dynamo signed from Leeds United who is tipped to follow in the footsteps of Aaron Lennon

Oscar Jansson, 18—a Swedish youth international goalkeeper making a big impression on the international and domestic youth scene