If there are two Tottenham Hotspur players who did themselves the most good in the International Champions Cup, it’s probably midfielders Oliver Skipp and Luke Amos. 17-year Skipp came off the bench in the first two games against Roma and Barcelona, and went the full 90 for an injury-plagued Spurs midfield. He was impressive in his first minutes for Spurs’ first team and looks to be one that Spurs fans will want to watch for the future.
But arguably, Luke Amos was the player who may have set himself up the best to actually earn a first team jersey number this season. The 21-year old Amos has been on the fringes of the squad for the past couple of years — he didn’t make last year’s ICC squad, but made the bench for Spurs’ 3-0 home Champions League win over APOEL before heading off in January for what was a pretty successful loan to League 2 side Stevenage.
Amos has yet to make his official first team debut for Tottenham, but in post-match comments to the media after last night’s 1-0 ICC win over AC Milan, Pochettino seemed to suggest that he may have just played his way into an opportunity to earn his first team debut.
“After four years, in my fifth year, you think I’m going to be scared to play [Amos]?
“The young players that maybe still don’t have experience in high competition, the compensation is about desire and energy. Players like Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen, when they were young, showed desire and energy like the young players on the tour. After 4 years, you know that we’re people, who if we believe in a young player, I don’t care about experience or not.
“Football is about energy, about desire, about respect for yourself and your teammates, being professional. Of course, Luke Amos is a good example. He played three games of 90 minutes. He’s not so young - 21 - and maybe he doesn’t have Premier League experience but his performances in the three games showed it’s not a problem to put him to play. Maybe he’s going to play ahead of some senior players. I’m more than brave and if I believe in some players I go with all the consequences.”
One thing we know about Pochettino is that he rewards intensity and effort as much as he does talent and ability. Above all he wants his young players to fight for their places in the chances that they get. That’s exactly how players like Harry Winks and Kyle Walker-Peters earned their places in the first team, and looking back a ways, you can make the same argument about a young Harry Kane.
Of course, Poch has said this about players before and then not played them, and moving from League 2 to the Premier League would be a pretty major leap. Still, it’d be hard to say that Amos doesn’t deserve the opportunity after this tour, even if his path has been cleared mostly due to injury and absence. Amos stood out with his pressure and composure in midfield against three solid (if rotated) continental opponents, and he did not look out of place.
With Spurs in the middle of a possible central midfield crisis — Winks, Victor Wanyama, Moussa Sissoko, and Tashan Oakley-Boothe are injured, while Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele have yet to return from vacation — the door appears to be open for Amos to possibly make his first team debut against Newcastle on August 11.
Pochettino went on to say that his World Cup stars return to training on Monday, but refused to say whether any or all of them would be in contention for Newcastle.
“First we need to assess them on Monday and see what happens. Maybe some players look after themselves and they’ve been training, maybe others rest, we need to see and of course we are not going to take risks if some players are not ready to compete, to play, they are not going to be involved at the weekend. That is so, so clear.
“But I don’t want you to start asking me why one is and why one is not. I make clear today the statement that if someone is not ready, he’s not going to be involved because we are not going to take risks.
“Of course it’s not our fault. It’s the reality that happens and pushes us to take some decisions that sure maybe doesn’t help the team from the beginning but we need to help some players because after the World Cup, minimum 20 days they need to rest and stop thinking about football. That is the reality that is for us is a massive challenge, because for us it never happened before and we need to be careful.
“We cannot because we need or because some names or the people will be disappointed. We are going to look after them in the best way, try to help them and start to play when they will be ready, not before.”