Tottenham are competing in the NextGen series this season and last night were handed a stern test against Spanish side Barcelona.
The Under-19 players may have come out on the wrong end of a 2-0 defeat but there was plenty for fans to be excited about as three players in particular demonstrated their undoubted talent.
In an era of football that demands instant success, it has become increasingly difficult to emerge from the youth structure and become a genuine contender for a place in the first team. The NextGen competition is designed to help this process and there have already been successful cases.
Raheem Sterling was the star of Liverpool's NextGen side last season, this year he has started two Premier League games and was called up to the England squad by Roy Hodgson. Gary Gardner has become an important figure at Aston Villa, while Celtic have been hugely impress with 18-year-old striker Tony Watt.
Below we assess the chances of three Tottenham youth players who will hope to impress Andre Villas-Boas and receive a chance in the first team.
Alex Pritchard: Midfielder
The 19-year-old was first discovered while playing for Belhus Chase Humanities College in Essex. Brought up in Thurrock, it was West Ham that first signed the talented teenager who remained with the east London club until 2009 when he was snapped up by Spurs. Playing for the Under-18 side when he was still just 16, Pritchard has excelled throughout this youth career and is already a firm fan favourite.
His diminutive stature does not detract from his ability on the ball and with an ability to play in either wide position, or behind a striker, he provides a genuine attacking threat. Against Barcelona he continually worried defenders and was unlucky not to score when his curling shot hit the bar. With Giovani dos Santos and Danny Rose no longer at the club, Pritchard could well provide back-up for both Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale.
Souleymane Coulibaly: Striker
The Ivory Coast youngster first came to prominence when scoring nine goals in just three games in last year's FIFA Under-17 World Cup. His hat-trick against Brazil was possibly the catalyst behind Tottenham's decision to sign the striker from Italian side Siena. He was an instant hit as he scored two goals in the 7-1 win over Inter Milan, before following that with another striker against PSV-Eindhoven.
A powerfully built 17-year-old, Coulibaly has demonstrated on numerous occasions his predatory instincts and was handed a debut in the first team during pre-season in a friendly against Stevenage. With Spurs currently having just two senior strikers in Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe at the club, Coulibaly could well challenge for first team honours if injuries take their toll.
Kenneth McEvoy: Winger
Another exciting attacking player who was signed by Tottenham after playing his youth football for his local side Villa FC in Waterford, Ireland. Having become a full-time member of the Spurs academy just over one year ago, the 18-year-old became a regular for the Under-18 side last season. McEvoy is highly regarded by his country, having represented the Republic of Ireland at Under-16, 17 and 19 level.
McEvoys strength is his outstanding pace which has seen him become a feared winger at youth level. With natural ability on the ball, Spurs appear to have successfully cloned Gareth Bale [the youngster is the spitting image of the Welsh star, see above image]. If he can improve at the same rate as the Wales international then there is no reason why he cannot find himself playing understudy in the first team squad.
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