Tottenham Hotspur aren't exactly short of quality bodies in midfield, but most of their players in that position are either injured or taking an extended break following successful spells with their national sides at the World Cup. That left Mauricio Pochettino a bit thin in the middle for Spurs' preseason tour of the United States, so fans got to see some so-called 'fringe' players get run-outs.
One of those players was Ryan Mason. Once billed as one of Tottenham's top prospects at attacking midfield, Mason has struggled with injuries over the course of his professional career. He was given a runout in more of a deep-lying playmaker position against the Seattle Sounders, Toronto FC and the Chicago Fire, and he surprised just about everyone by looking like a polished professional in the role.
However, Mason didn't surprise himself.
"I'm 23 now so if I didn't think I was going to make it I would have left by now," Mason told Cartilage Free Captain when he was asked if he wants to fight for his place at Spurs or go out on loan to get guaranteed minutes, after his match against the Fire. "I still believe I'm good enough and hopefully I can get chances this season."
Pochettino is the only one who knows whether or not Mason has a chance at cementing a first team place, and Mason hopes he's made an impact on him.
"My goal was to impress the manager," said Mason. "I won't know how well I've done until I speak with him, but that was my aim."
Even if Pochettino was impressed, Mason's about to face a serious step-up in internal competition. Mousa Dembele, Nabil Bentaleb and Paulinho will be back in training after a brief rest, while Sandro, despite rumors that he could be sold, is still under contract with Spurs as well. Those players could all get at least a brief run-out against Celtic on Saturday, depending on their conditioning and whether or not Pochettino wants to give them more rest.
Mason has two more weeks of training and two more preseason games to prove he deserves a place in the squad. It'll be a seriously uphill climb for him to land a spot, but based on the way he played in the United States, he probably shouldn't be counted out.