Tottenham Hotspur are in Singapore for the last stage of their preseason tour to Australia and Asia. They’ll play Singaporean League side Lion City Sailors tomorrow, a replacement for Roma who cancelled their overseas tour after missed payments from their tour promoters. Ange Postecoglou ran his team through an open training session in front of Singaporean Spurs fans today, and also faced the media for the first time since the cancelled match in Bangkok. Thankfully there were no German reporters with Bayern kits.
These press conferences are a good way to take the temperature of the squad. That’s useful, especially in a transition year with a new manager and a vastly different style of play. Postecoglou continued his line that the team is training well and working hard, but cautioned that there’s still a long way to go.
“The lads have been training really well. I’ve been happy with the response from working hard and in fairly trying conditions, especially the last few days. They’ve still pushed through that and their attitude has been first rate in terms of receiving information and training. We’re trying to implement and new playing style and we’re still very much in the embryonic stages, very very early. The first game was OK in terms of them trying to do things we’ve tried to work on. You have to weigh up working on the game plan with the physical condition. From my perspective, we’ve juggled the two not too bad.
“But we’ve got a long way to go. It’s still early steps. Looking forward to the game and every opportunity we get to play abroad and in front of fans who don’t regularly get a chance to see us regularly is a great opportunity for us to show our abilities. I think it’s a good way for us to finish up the tour tomorrow, it’s a great stadium and hopefully we get a great turnout.”
Postecoglou was asked about young players at the club, specifically youngsters in the academy such as Oliver Irow and James Rowswell who are starting to get some buzz. The conversation shifted quickly to the younger players in the first team. Postecoglou said that he has been particularly impressed with Oliver Skipp, and how he opted to return to training early after winning the U21 Euros with England.
“Yeah, [Skippy] is part of my plans, absolutely. We gave him the option. It’s fair to say that with it being a tournament and him being successful, you want him to enjoy that because probably when he reflects later in his life it will be one of the highlights of his career.
“You don’t want him to jump from one thing to another. We left it in his corner. I was more than prepared for him to miss this trip but in the back of my mind I like the fact that he came back early (laughs). It didn’t surprise me that that’s the decision he made and he’s been great.
“He’s in really good physical condition, you can see that. He’s probably ahead of some of the other guys and he’s adapting really well to the way we’re training.”
Ange was also asked about Pape Sarr, who seems to be integrated more into the side under the Aussie boss than under previous managers. Sarr didn’t play much in the friendly against West Ham in Perth, and we don’t know what Ange’s plans for him were in the cancelled friendly in Thailand. But Postecoglou had nothing but good things to say about him and his game.
“Absolutely. What a player. He never stops smiling, what else do you want from a footballer? He’s outstanding and he’s always happy. I’ve seen plenty of outstanding players who are fairly miserable.
He’s a great talent. That part really excited me at the moment that we have a clutch with Destiny, Pappy, Skippy. We’ve got a talented and very exciting group there. There’s some real growth there for us apart from establishing a team that can make an impact straight away.
“He’s very good technically. His mobility as a midfielder, which I think is becoming more and more important in the game, is outstanding. His ability to find space, to break lines with and without the ball is very, very good for a young player and a 20-year-old. Those kinds of things in a midfielder in the modern game are very sought after. These days most managers now realise a lot of times the game becomes a transitional game and you need people who can cover territory and do intelligently and he does that. He’s always in the right spaces, he’s always looking to be aggressive in his approach. Technically he’s very, very good.”
Finally, Ange talked a little bit about what we might see from Spurs in the friendly against Lion City Sailors. Ange said that Tanguy Ndombele is back after picking up a knock ahead of the first friendly, meaning we might see him play on Wednesday. Postecoglou also said that he’s planning on using the match to get games to players that need the additional fitness, and that, like vs. West Ham, Spurs should expect to see two completely different XIs in the first and second halves.
“Everyone’s good - Dane Scarlett is the one who has been struggling with a bit of injury. But he sort of trained this morning, he probably won’t be available tomorrow. Tanguy was the other one who’s been a slow burner but now he’s back training so he’s available as well. So yeah in terms of health wise, I think everyone’s fit.
“Again, I think tomorrow I won’t use everyone. With us missing a game, this was the game where I was going to give game time to just about everyone in the squad but with us missing a game I’ll probably still focus on the guys who need a game. So I’ll probably do two two elevens again, which means some will miss out but they’ll do some work and then we’ve got a full week of training after that.”
Tottenham kicks off in their final preseason friendly Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m. ET, 12:30 p.m. UK. The match will be televised on CBS Sports Network in the USA and is streamed on SpursPLAY.