Ones To Watch: The Spurs Youth Players on The Plane To Australia

The announcement of a ‘post-season friendly’ trip all in Australia to play a team that Tottenham already play twice a season certainly, and understandably so, raised a few eyebrows. However, the trip can and has been utilised by Spurs manager, Ange Postecoglou, as a way to reward some of the club’s best youth players with first team experience.

Although the players involved with the U21s will have a PL2 playoff final to play when they return, it’s more than likely that a large number of these players will be handed their Tottenham debuts, written below therefore explains each player’s history, style of play and what to expect from them.

George Abbott
(Credit: Myles Magidsohn / @mylesmphotos)

George Abbott

Abbott has undertaken the role of being captain for the U21s at just eighteen years of age. Spurs fans who don’t watch the academy will be familiar with Abbott from his short cameo last season at Elland Road where interim manager, Ryan Mason, handed Abbott his debut with the team 3-1 up.

It’s clear to see why academy manager, Wayne Burnett, has entrusted Abbott with captaincy at such a young age with the midfielder being consistently composed on the ball, often playing a key cog in the U21’s intricate attacks, as he was on Sunday, assisting Nile John’s 94th minute winner to defeat rivals Chelsea.

George has been capped at England U19s level this year and also recently signed his first professional deal at Tottenham.

Growing up in Islington and being with the club since under-8 level, Abbott will be a player on the trip who knows exactly what it means to play for Tottenham. If he does feature, it’s likely Abbott will take up a defensive midfield role much like Hojbjerg or Bissouma has done so far this season.

Leo Black

With Mikey Moore not being selected due to his involvement in the England U17’s EURO’s, Leo Black is the youngest & only U18s player on the trip.

As is the way with most young players in the modern day, Leo can and has been deployed in several roles and positions, but most frequently is used as a central midfielder or right back. Black became a scholar in July of 2022 before being awarded a professional contract two months ago, that contract along with being selected for a first team trip at such a young age speaks to the trust that Tottenham have in this young star.

Leo has five goals and seven assists in the Premier League U18 campaign this season and even scored on his debut trip with England’s U18s back in March this year. (TransferMarkt)

With his abilities to play central midfield as well as full-back, it will be interesting to see if Postecoglou experiments with Black as an inverted full-back or as an outright midfielder if he features.

Alfie Devine
Credit: Ollie Watkins (@watkinsstudio)

Alfie Devine

Devine is a player who will need less explanation than some of the other names on this list with Alfie featuring twice for Spurs and even scoring in the FA Cup against Marine in the 2020/21 season.

Since signing from Wigan’s academy at 15 years old, in a deal reportedly worth around £300,000, Devine has impressed in the Spurs youth teams and this season earned his first loan move. (The Independent)

Port Vale announced that they had signed the talented 19-year-old on loan in August and Devine enjoyed a very successful stint for the Vale, netting three times in his twenty-six appearances with the club as they suffered a poor campaign that eventually ended in relegation.

Alfie didn’t however suffer that pain of relegation with the League One side and instead enjoyed the feeling of joy at Plymouth Argyle as they survived the drop in the Championship, Devine was sent to Plymouth in January alongside fellow Lilywhite, Ashley Phillips.

The second loan in a season for Devine was a mixed bag, seeing red in one of his final games for the club but also chipping in with two assists to help the team stay up.

At Plymouth, Devine was sometimes pushed out wide, but is often best in an attacking midfielder role and will be hoping that the recent announcement of James Maddison in the England training squad will prompt Postecoglou to rest the former-Leicester man, paving the way for Devine to feature in the clash against Newcastle.

Devine has a lot of exciting aspects about his game being a great dribbler but also a player who can find a key pass to unpick a defensive lock.

Jamie Donley
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Jamie Donley

One of the most highly rated players among fans and spectators of the U21s. Donley, born in Northern Ireland, has been a part of Tottenham since the age of eight. Jamie has become a pivotal part of the Spurs U21 team that has already won the league phase of the PL2 season, with the chance to win the playoffs on Sunday, a year on from being part of the team that won the U18’s PL Cup.

Has recently formed a formidable partnership with Will Lankshear due to Donley’s incredible range and accuracy of passing and Lankshear’s lethal striker’s instinct.

Donley’s performances this season have seen him nominated, alongside teammates Will Lankshear and Jude Soonsup-Bell, for the PL2 Player of the Year award. The attacking midfielder has tallied an impressive five goals and twelve assists in seventeen appearances in the PL2 this season.

Postecoglou has fed Donley a few minutes throughout the season, but Spurs fans will likely be keen to see more of the 19-year-old should he continue in the way that he has performed this season.

Jamie often quietly goes about his business on the pitch, having the ability to not only create but also finish, often in some style; scoring two incredible chips already this season, one from the halfway line. It’s clear to see why his performances have drawn comparisons to the ones of Harry Kane for the senior team due to both players’ tendency to drop deep and create as well as delivering in front of goal.

Tyrese Hall
Photo by @AlfieNicholsonJournalism

Tyrese Hall

Tyrese is enjoying his breakout season for the U21s and he’s certainly made his mark. Hall has recently signed a new contract until 2029 after cementing a place in Wayne Burnett’s squad ever since his two assists against Aston Villa in January.

Hall, who has compared his own game to that of Yves Bissouma, rarely gives away the ball, utilising his dribbling and determination to get away from his opponents and start attacks. At first, Hall was being deployed as a defensive midfielder, but as the season has progressed so has Tyrese’s position up the field, finding the most joy when playing in a freer role in central midfield with the security of George Abbott behind him.

Goals have been a recent string that Tyrese Hall has added to his bow, netting two crucial goals against Liverpool in the PL2 playoff quarterfinals against Liverpool at the Tottenham Stadium.

Having recently been on the bench for Spurs’ last home game against Manchester City, Hall will be hoping that he can go one better on this Australian trip and make his senior debut in Lilywhite colours.

Rio Kyerematen

Kyerematen is another Tottenham academy product that has been on the books since the age of eight. Having impressed with the U16s in 2020/21, Rio featured for the U18s towards the end of that season, being just fifteen years of age.

Now a regular member of the U21s, Kyerematen has shown his versatility across the season. Much like Leo Black, Kyerematen is traditionally a midfielder, but he recently has been featuring at full-back.

The turning point for Kyerematen appeared to be in April, when he made his first start in seven games, this time at left-back. Tottenham pulled apart Wolves with ease, winning 5-1 with Kyerematen creating two of the goals and scoring one himself.

Since then, Kyerematen has been shining at both right and left back, using his experience in midfield to beat his man whilst also having the ability to deliver low crosses that are such a key feature of the way that both the senior and academy teams play.

Ashley Phillips

Phillips was signed a year ago from Blackburn Rovers clearly with the vision of letting him settle into the club before eventually departing on loan in January to Plymouth Argyle. In that time Ange Postecoglou did name Phillips on his bench after suffering an injury crisis which left him with very few centre backs, even playing four full-backs in defence at times instead of playing Phillips.

However, Postecoglou may have more trust in the teenager who impressed at Plymouth and was key to them sustaining their Championship status, so much so that Phillips was named the clubs Young Player of the Season, despite playing only twenty times for Argyle.

Standing at 6’4”, Ashley Phillips is an ariel and physical presence in both boxes, often seen using his pace to progress the ball from defence into the midfield, igniting an attack as he did many times against Chelsea on Sunday in the PL2 playoff semi-final.

With Romero being absent from the trip to Australia and Micky Van De Ven potentially jetting off to the EURO’s with the Netherlands in the coming weeks, Phillips has a good chance of featuring in Melbourne.

Yago Santiago
(Credit: Myles Magidsohn / @mylesmphotos)

Yago Santiago

Santiago, from Vigo in Spain, signed for Spurs in 2019 and has steadily progressed throughout the academy’s teams ever since, operating both as a striker and a winger in his time going through the ranks.

At 21, Santiago has now clearly established himself as a winger, predominantly on the left wing. The Spaniard is light on his feet and consistently a nightmare for defenders to handle, excelling in one-on-one situations.

Yago has had one of his best seasons in terms of numbers this season, setting up seven goals and netting eight times in his seventeen PL2 appearances this season (TransferMarkt). One of Santiago’s most memorable goals of the season is however his goal in the semi-final of the PL2 Cup where his stoppage time strike completed a comeback from 3-0 down for the U21s.

Santiago has made a few features in the Tottenham senior squad, but never made it off the bench, however, he will be hoping to impress Postecoglou with his electric pace and impressive dribbling in the sessions leading up to the game in order to earn his first senior minutes.

Dane Scarlett
(Credit: Tom Cusden / @cusden)

Dane Scarlett

Jose Mourinho famously handed Scarlett his Tottenham debut in the 2020/21 season, lauding the then 17-year-old, stating that he ‘is going to be phenomenal’. The praise from the Portuguese coach obviously then sky rocketed expectations upon Scarlett, perhaps unfairly. (Daily Mail)

Scarlett has since been loaned out to Portsmouth last season where he featured forty times, scoring on six occasions. In an attempt to progress Dane’s career, the club sent him on loan to Ipswich Town at the start of this season, but Scarlett struggled to breakthrough in McKenna’s promotion-winning team.

Dane returned to Hotspur Way in January and has been involved in the first-team squad since, only making a single bench appearance for the U21s since his return and instead making the bench for all of Spurs’ final three league games of the season, even being handed a quarter of an hour off of the bench against Burnley.

The Hillingdon-born striker clearly has a knack for scoring goals, netting twelve times in fourteen appearances at U19 level for England, getting six in sixteen at U20 level also (TransferMarkt). The trip to Australia as well as preseason will likely determine where Scarlett goes come next season with a potential third loan likely, but recent squad involvements suggesting Postecoglou isn’t completely averse to Scarlett remaining a part of the senior Spurs squad.

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