Mauricio Pochettino has earned a reputation for successfully bringing youth players up into the senior team. He has done it with Harry Winks and Ryan Mason at Spurs, and he did it with a few other players while at Southampton.
Now he’s doing it with Oliver Skipp.
Spurs beat Saints at Wembley 3-1 yesterday, but in the long run we may remember the game as the day when Skipp made his Premier League debut. The 18-year-old came on in the 87th minute to help sure up a Tottenham midfield that was being overrun.
After the game, Pochettino told the press just how excited he was about Skipp’s future. Football London has the quotes.
“With Oliver it’s only about time. If he is capable of working how he’s working and doing in the future the energy and he’s behaving now, I think his future will be bright. We were thinking in the last few months to give him the opportunity to play in the Premier League but for different things it wasn’t possible. I think he’s a player that we believe a lot in and I hope that he continues growing. For sure, he will be, I hope and wish, a great player for this club.”
The England U18 international has regularly traveled with the team over the last month or so. He made his senior debut in the League Cup against West Ham earlier in the season, and he should get a few more chances to impress as the year goes on.
Skipp spoke after the victory about his emotions following such a big moment in his career.
“I’m ecstatic really! It’s just a dream to play in the Premier League,” he said. “As a boy growing up, you watch it, so I’m just delighted to make my debut. It was in the team meeting beforehand – that’s when I knew I was going to be on the bench. Then literally about a minute before I came on, I got the shout – I was ready to go and prepared. Although we were 3-0 up, Southampton were creating chances. Hugo has made some world-class saves which obviously helped, so we’ve got him to thank for that, but the key was getting in and around their wide players and making it difficult for them to get crosses into the box, because they’d brought on Charlie Austin and he’s a threat from those situations. Unfortunately he scored at the end, but we saw out the game in the end and came away with the victory. The fact that we won the game, it’s everything really. It makes it even better because if you come on and you haven’t won it might feel different, so it’s just amazing to come on in a winning performance.”
You don’t even have to hear him say the words. Skipp’s excitement come across quite clearly even just as a wall of text.
The Spurs’ academy graduate was born in Welwyn Garden City in the suburbs of London. He’s still only 18 but has featured heavily for Tottenham’s Under-23 team, usually as a midfielder. His first goal for the U-23’s appropriately came in a 3-1 win over Arsenal last March.
It’s possible that Skipp will get another opportunity to play as Tottenham enter the busy period of festive fixtures. The club will face lower league opposition in either Southport or Tranmere in the FA Cup in January. That game could be the right time for Pochettino to hand Skipp his first start for the senior team.