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 17 year old central defender Cameron Carter-Vickers. We rank him as the #3 on our prospect list.
Who is he?
Cameron Carter-Vickers, born in Southend, has been with the club since age 11. Since officially joining, he has been a fixture in Spurs Under-18 (U-18), FA Youth Cup, and U-21 lineups. He even earned the captain's armband for a match with the U-21 side this past year despite being only 17.
In addition to his club appearances, Carter-Vickers has been capped by the United States at the U-18, U-20, and U-23 levels. He was a mainstay on the squad that went to New Zealand for the FIFA U-20 World Cup and lost in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Serbia. Despite being born and raised in England, he qualifies for the U.S. as his father is American.
What can he do?
He can anchor the back line, frankly. If we had never seen him play, the responsibilities he has been given at the tender ages of 16 and 17 would speak loudly enough. Captaining the Tottenham U-21s and a World cup side at 17 shows just what his managers think of him.
As for his actual play, the powerfully built academy product has a varied game. With his frame (6', 190lbs) he is extremely difficult to get around and is good in the air. Players almost never get the best of him in shoulder to shoulder situations which is significant given the age difference he is often dealing with. He will not turn 18 until New Years Eve so more physical development is certain. While this could be cause for concern, should he become too bulky, it should be noted that the young central defender is sturdy as an oak through the legs, carrying much of his weight there.
With his physical description one may expect a bullying type of defender. Despite his size, Carter-Vickers is an exceptional footballer, positionally and technically. He exudes calm with the ball and is able to build play out of the back nicely. He will even play out of the back under pressure which can is an asset as his sides transition to the attack. There is an air of calmness and control about him that is quite impressive.
This calmness is also on display in his defending. Positionally, he seems to show up in the right places time after time, rarely looking out of control. Against Chelsea's U-21s last year there were times he was left to cover for players who broke through the line but never went in with reckless tackles and often recovered well enough to tackle the player successfully. It is no accident when the ball consistently finds a defender time and time again, and in the limited amount of games we have been able to see him, he seems to be of that class.
Where can he go?
He should be a senior team fixture for club and country soon enough. Given the buying frenzy of central defenders by Spurs this window, I do not really have a gauge on when "soon enough" is. However murky his opportunity for first team minutes may be, his combination of size, athleticism, and cerebral acumen on the pitch have the makings of something special. That there is such a limited sample size is the main factor hurting him for these overall rankings as the top two have put their skills to the test against professional footballers week in, week out.
We have been tempering expectations with the youth ratings as unforeseen events do happen, but the hype around Cameron Carter-Vickers is not overblown. He is part of a group of about ten players that have real chances to make an impact with Spurs, and amongst that group he stands near the front of the line.