Mauricio Pochettino has been impressed with the performances and behaviour of Tottenham’s academy players in the United States, and says he would have no qualms about naming Luke Amos in his squad against Newcastle next weekend.
Spurs have been missing a host of senior players during their preseason tour, due to late holidays and injury — but that has given a group of youngsters an opportunity to impress.
Pochettino started with six players under the age of 22 as the north Londoners completed their International Champions Cup campaign with a 1-0 win over AC Milan in Minneapolis, and Pochettino has been pleased with what he has seen.
“My feeling now is on one side disappointed that some players got injured and I’m sad about that, but of course happy for many young players who stepped up and behaved very well on and off the pitch,” Pochettino said.
“The quality of time that we spent together, training and competing with big sides like Roma, Barcelona and Milan, and the way they behaved made us very happy.
“They showed they have the potential to one day be consistent in the first team. I want to congratulate all the academy coaches because they’ve been working for a long time to produce these players for the first team.”
Pochettino ultimately found himself without seven central midfielders during Spurs’ tour, so 21-year-old Amos played throughout all three matches.
Asked whether he would be prepared to take the youngster to Newcastle on the opening day of the season, if necessary, Pochettino replied: “After four years, in my fifth year, you think I’m going to be scared to play him?
“Is he ready? That’s different. 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 four years, you know that we’re people who, if we believe in a young player, 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 — but maybe he doesn’t have Premier League experience. But his performances in the three games showed it’s not a problem to put him in 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.”
The nine Tottenham players who reached the World Cup semifinals will return to training on Monday, but Pochettino has warned supporters that they may not all be ready to face Newcastle five days later.
“First we need to assess them on Monday and see what happens,” he said. “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. 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 don’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 a massive challenge, because for us it never happened before and we need to be careful.
“We cannot [pick them] because we need them, or because [they are] 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.”
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