Tottenham youngster Alex Pritchard yesterday showed glimpses of the talent which could help him become the latest NextGen player to break into his clubs first team.
The diminutive winger scored two superb goals as Tottenham's Under-19 side were held to a 2-2 draw against Wolfsburg at their new state-of-the-art training complex in Enfield.
Pritchard was a constant threat on the left-wing as he continually beat his marker, often making use of his preferred right-foot by cutting inside and having an effort on goal.
He both created and scored the opening goal when beating three players on a super solo run which was only brought to an end with a crude challenge. Pritchard duly dusted himself down and curled the free-kick over the wall and past the helpless Wolfsburg keeper Niklas Klinger.
The 19-year-old's second was another superb effort from distance as he ran onto a through ball from Milos Veljkovic and thumped home his second from 25 yards.
There were further opportunities in the second half as Pritchard was harshly judged to have dived, before failing to control a sliding effort at the back post which went high and wide and denied him the chance of a memorable hat-trick.
It was a superb display from the Tottenham youngster and further highlighted his credentials as he loos to emulate the achievements of another winger in Liverpool's Raheem Sterling.
The 17-year-old played against Pritchard's Tottenham last season in NextGen action, and few would have believed that the pacy winger would have established himself in the Liverpool first team this season.
His performances have been one of the highlights in a difficult start to the season for Liverpool who have relied heavily on their thriving academy to provide players for the first team.
Like Sterling, Pritchard is a naturally right-footed player who looks at his most dangerous on the left of a front three where he can cut inside and fire efforts on goal. His trickery and skill on the ball makes him a nightmare for defenders who are constantly worried about his ability to shift the ball and draw a foul.
Pritchard is certainly gaining plenty of experience this season in both NextGen action and playing in the Under-21 Premier League. He will hope that his performances begin to catch the eye of first team manager Andre Villas-Boas who will be keen to see players coming through from the academy.
Tottenham's NextGen coach Alex Inglethorpe admitted that these games do provide a platform, and was asked whether the players are aware that they can catch the managers eye.
"Absolutely, I think it was a few years ago we played Arsenal down here and Andros [Townsend] had a fantastic game that night, and so did Steven Caulker so I think it can do things for your career," Inglethorpe told IBTimesUK. "It gets the manager thinking about you in a positive way and the players are aware of that."
Pritchard will look to a number of players across Europe who have managed to make the leap from NextGen performer to the first team. Davy Klaasen of Ajax was a regular in the youth side and has now made two appearances in the Champions League, while Celtic forward Tony Watt scored twice against Barcelona in NextGen action last year and earlier this week once again played against the Spanish giants, this time in Europe's elite competition.
Closer to home Aston Villa have promoted Gary Gardner, while Liverpool's Suso, Raheem Sterling and Andre Wisdom were all regulars in the NextGen side last season.
The difficulty for Pritchard will come in the strength that Tottenham possess in wide areas. It is unlikely he could force his way ahead of Gareth Bale or Aaron Lennon, however, he will be hoping that he can provide suitable back-up for when these players are injured.
Raheem Sterling has shown it can be done at Liverpool when he was handed the chance, Pritchard will feel one opportunity is all he needs to make a lasting impression.
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Australia Bids Adieu to Adam Spencer's Mornings on ABC's "702 Breakfast" Show [PHOTOS]
- SEE PHOTOS! Eva Longoria Wears No Panties at Cannes 2013, Revealed in Embarrassing Wardrobe Malfunction [SLIDESHOW]
- Top 10 Hottest Celebrities with Shocking Weight Loss (And Find Out Their Secrets!) [PHOTOS]
- Demi Lovato Snapped Getting Flirty with The X-Factor Boss, Simon Cowell? [PHOTOS]