Cartilage Free Captain is again reviewing and ranking the top 15 youth prospects at Tottenham Hotspur to see which players have the best potential to follow players like Harry Kane, Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend, and Nabil Bentaleb into the Tottenham first team. The rules for inclusion are as follows:
- The player had to be 21 or under on January 1, 2015
- The player cannot have seen significant match time with Tottenham's first team
Next on our list is 20 year old midfielder Grant Ward.
Who is he?
Grant Ward is a versatile midfielder who plays primarily on the flanks, but can be deputized across the midfield. The Lewisham born playmaker joined Spurs in the summer of 2011, making various appearances for our U18 and U21 sides as well as featuring prominently in FA Youth Cup ties. He even bagged himself a nice goal against West Ham during last year's run.
Tottenham sent Ward stateside in 2014 for a loan spell with Chicago Fire where he made 23 appearances, scoring one goal. Upon his return from Chicago, Ward trained with Spurs until March 11, 2015 when he went to League One side Coventry City for a trial. Days later he was signed for the rest of the season. He went on to make 11 appearances for the Sky Blues.
What can he do?
For a insider's perspective we asked Sean Spence from Chicago Fire blog Hot Time in Old Town for a scouting report on Ward's game. He was nice enough to oblige.
SS: Grant Ward came to Chicago as the leading edge of new manager Frank Yallop's makeover of the team, and generally acquitted himself well in his year with the club. From a personality standpoint, Ward is a solid teammate in the clubhouse, a funny, loose young man whose professionalism on the training pitch was never an issue.
Athletically, Ward is a model modern outside midfielder - reasonably pacy, stronger than he looks, and capable of reaching an impressive peak of fitness. He'll never consistently beat top-flight fullbacks for pace, but he has enough to get the half-step necessary to shape an attacking ball. His work rate in the defensive phase can be impressive.
Technically, he's adequate to the task, but little more. When the Fire loaned a young winger from a big Premier League club, we had visions of a tricksy water-bug torturing fullbacks, but that is not Ward's game. At this point in his career, Ward prefers to keep it simple, combining to get a bit of space around the flanks or playing directly to the forwards.
In short, the next couple of years will determine whether Grant has a future at the Premier League level, or whether he's more likely to earn a living deeper in the pyramid.
Sean's last takeaway is interesting given his loan spell at Coventry City. Within weeks of arrival Ward was a first team regular, and even earned man of the match plaudits for his performance at Fleetwood. By all accounts his versatility and quality were major assets to the Midlands club in their relegation scrap.
When mentioning versatility, it should be noted that we are not talking about swapping flanks. Tony Mowbray often used Ward in a midfield three where his play was not winglike, but orchestral in nature. This development in his game is interesting given the difficulty of making it at higher levels, not just the Premier League. Players who can fill multiple roles are more valuable and he has proven to be just that.
Where can he go?
When Ward went on loan to MLS, it brought about memories of Simon Dawkins. It seemed that the club were looking for playing time to showcase a player and establish transfer value. Our young midfielder seized the opportunity in Chicago, however, and furthered his cause by going on to shine in League One. The young Englishman has at least earned the right to remain in the club's plans even if it is on loan again. One would hope Tottenham could reward his hard work by securing a loan at the Championship level for the upcoming campaign. He has earned that.
When compared with younger prospects at the club, Ward does not feel as exciting. He isn't flashy or garnering postseason awards. What should be noted, however, is his level of competition. He has played in two senior leagues, on two continents, in two positions, and consistently found a place in the team. For a player that will not turn 21 until December that is impressive.
With tempered optimism, and with a keen interest in which position he takes up, his progress in the next year is something to keep an eye on.
Many thanks to Sean Spence for his insights.