Sherwood's proteges set to shine at Spurs

Posted by Dan Fitch

Clive Rose/Getty ImagesNabil Bentaleb is one of several young Tottenham players getting a shot under new manager Tim Sherwood.

If there's one advantage of promoting the guy that runs your club's youth teams to become the first-team manager, it's that he should know exactly which young players are ready to make the step up.

Tim Sherwood surprised many when he brought on Nabil Bentaleb in the game against Southampton, when he had the likes of Etienne Capoue and Lewis Holtby on the bench.

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Bentaleb impressed on his debut and has enjoyed more game time since. Spurs fans have also been treated to the sight of Zeki Fryers starting at left-back in the 3-0 win over Stoke. Let's hope we see more of him rather than the likes of Kyle Walker and Jan Vertonghen being played out of position.

It must be demoralising for young players when they see more senior squad members being made to plug gaps in the side, rather than being given a chance in their natural role. This is especially true when they have to watch Kyle Naughton floundering at left-back.

There are some talented players being produced at Tottenham these days and one of the disappointments of the Andre Villas-Boas era was the lack of opportunities for them. It's true that Andros Townsend broke through early this season but there were moments when Spurs were in need of him last season while he was impressing at QPR.

Steven Caulker seemed to be making good progress during AVB’s debut campaign, only to be sold in the summer. As is the case with multi-layered management, no one really knows if everyone -- like Sherwood for example -- were in agreement at the sale.

I want Cardiff to be relegated this season and not just because of the behaviour of their crackpot owner. If there's a buy-back clause in Caulker's contract, then I dearly hope that Tottenham bring him back to White Hart Lane in the summer.

If Spurs don't, then another big club will sign him which would be a great shame. Having young players in your team that have made it through the ranks is both an inspiration to the youth players and important to the fans.

One youngster that could well be returning to White Hart Lane soon is Tom Carroll. Tottenham refused QPR permission to play the on-loan Carroll in the FA Cup, fuelling rumours that Sherwood is considering recalling the midfielder.

It was a mistake in the summer to both loan out Carroll and sell Tom Huddlestone, considering that the midfielders brought in were less creative than the duo. Carroll could definitely add something to this Spurs squad.

Other youngsters such as centre-back Milos Veljkovic and forward Harry Kane have featured on the bench in recent weeks. Both are highly-rated but it's the slightly older Kane that is likelier to get a chance this season.

A lot of Kane's opportunities in the first-team have come as a lone striker, when in truth he's more comfortable playing in a deeper role. When I watched him play on loan at Millwall a couple of seasons ago, his clever through balls from deep positions brought to mind a certain Teddy Sheringham.

Under Villas-Boas, I thought that Kane would struggle to establish himself unless he mastered the art of playing alone up front. With Sherwood in charge, he should get opportunities in his favoured role just behind the striker.

That can only be a good thing for a young player. It's difficult enough making the leap to first-team regular, without having to completely remodel your game.

Only time will tell if Sherwood's ascension to the Tottenham throne is a positive for the club, but it's certainly likely to reap rewards for his proteges. Like Sherwood, these players will only stay at Spurs if they're good enough, but at least now they'll have the chance to prove it.


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