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Pochettino talks youth players and lessons learned ahead of Fulham

“It’s going to be a good opportunity for [young players] to be involved and train with the first team and maybe have the possibility to play.”

Tranmere Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur - FA Cup Third Round Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The Tottenham Hotspur injury crisis continues into another week, first team players are in short supply. For Mauricio Pochettino, though, that might mean giving opportunities for some of the club’s talented youth players.

Speaking at a press conference the day before a trip to Fulham on Sunday, the manager addressed the topic, having complimentary words in general for the young players available to him. In addition to making match-day squads and even getting minutes, Pochettino said “we are going to give the possibility ... to be involved [in] training with the first team to different players.”

At the mention of Kazaiah Sterling specifically, Pochettino stopped short of giving the forward praise out loud, but for a good reason:

I don’t want to talk about the young ones. I made a mistake you know very well a few years ago and I’m not happy with that situation. I think I am a person who I try to learn from my mistakes in trying to put some names in the spotlight and instead to help we put perhaps too much pressure. That is why I’m not going to make the same mistakes, I don’t want to say names, talk about individual young players.

Many players are going to be involved in the next few months and maybe until the end because it’s going to be difficult do sign players. The important thing is they need to feel there’s not pressure to show too much, only to enjoy the training session to be involved, to learn and show their team-mates that they can trust in them. Of course if they deserve, the many, many young ones who have been involved with us, sure they are going to have the possibility to play.

Pochettino is likely referencing Marcus Edwards, who he once called “mini Messi.” The midfielder has struggled to break into the first team in the two years since that comment and in a loan spell at Norwich City, something the manager said he does not want to see repeat.

That said, Pochettino was less ready to praise forward Troy Parrott when his name was mentioned at the press conference. The Argentine name-dropped Oliver Skipp, who picked up minutes during the holiday fixtures, and noted that the young players had opportunities, avoiding sharing his opinions on Parrott.

Additionally, Pochettino avoided further questions on team selection for Sunday, giving an ambiguous answer to Fernando Llorente’s chances of starting in Harry Kane’s absence.