Teenage Serbian defender/midfielder Milos Veljkovic has been one of Tottenham Hotspur's brightest prospects since joining the academy, and featured regularly under Mauricio Pochettino during preseason. He's spent the first half of this season on a three month loan at Championship side Middlesbrough alongside fellow Tottenham Hotspur academy product Ryan Fredericks.
However, while Fredericks has featured regularly at right back (before suffering a recent injury), Veljkovic has found playing time harder to come by. So far Veljkovic has played only 145 minutes of Championship football, coming on twice as a substitute before finally making his first start away to Blackburn in their last match of 2014.
But despite his limited appearances, Boro manager Aitor Karanka is eager to hold onto the youngster, particularly after losing Rhys Williams to injury for the rest of the season. Veljkovic replaced Williams in the first minute of Saturday's FA Cup match after the Australian went down hurt, and Milos may have a chance for more opportunities over second half of the season.
It's hard to say whether extending his loan would be a good move for either Spurs or Veljkovic himself. Only 230 total minutes from October to January doesn't seem like the most productive way for Veljkovic to spend his time. However, after starting against Blackburn, Veljkovic himself expressed interest in remaining at Boro. Karanka, despite barely playing him, seems to rate him highly and after Milos's first sub appearance the coach said:
"I am very pleased with Milos. I felt he was the best player on the pitch in the last game.
"He went onto the pitch at a difficult time and he showed everyone he is a mature player, even though he is only 19 years old."
So on the plus side, he seems happy and the coach seems happy and Williams injury means he'll at least get some more playing time than he has already.
However, when Williams went off injured he was playing right back. Dean Whitehead moved from midfield to fill in at right back, with Veljkovic slotting into midfield. Presumably once Ryan Fredericks comes back from injury, he'll pick up where he left off as starting right back and there might no longer be a need to juggle players around and accommodate Veljkovic. He's only made one substitute appearance at the crowded CB spot, where he's competing with on loan Chelsea starlet and full Nigerian international Kenneth Omeruo for starts. The rest of his appearances have all come in midfield.
With Younes Kaboul possibly on his way out of the club, Pochettino may have a use for Milos in the coming months. If the club sees Veljkovic's long-term position as a center back, playing cup minutes at Spurs in his favored position has got to be better than playing midfield in the Championship for his long-term development. And if he is just going to be playing in midfield at Boro, Spurs own midfield certainly could use the help with Ryan Mason injured, Nabil Bentaleb in Africa, Etienne Capoue vanished under mysterious circumstances, and Paulinho terrible.
At this point, Veljkovic's immediate future remains uncertain, with plenty of reasons to either stay on loan, come home to Spurs, or even find a new loan altogether. It's hard to say his loan so far has done anybody a whole lot of good, but at least it seems to be trending in the right direction.