Spurs' next breakthrough star? Talented youngsters on the rise
By Lyall Thomas
Last Updated: 10/02/16 9:23am
Tottenham signed just a solitary player in the winter transfer window - a 17-year-old midfielder called Shilow Tracey from Ebbsfleet United, who goes straight into their U18s group.
Despite being in the hunt for the Premier League title, the club also allowed three first-team players to leave - Andros Townsend, Federico Fazio (loan) and Alex Pritchard (loan) - but did not bring in any cover.
There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is the financial difficulty the club faces due to building a new stadium, which head coach Mauricio Pochettino alluded to last week. But principal among them is that the club do not wish to block the paths of a number of exciting youngsters they expect to break into the first-team in the coming years.
So who are these youngsters? Sky Sports News HQ reporter Lyall Thomas sheds some light...
Closest to the first-team is Josh Onomah, who has been on the bench 15 times out of the last 22 first-team games in all competitions, coming on in seven of them, and starting two others against Monaco in the Europa League and Leicester in the FA Cup.
The 18-year-old, born a stone's throw from Hotspur Way in Enfield, progressed through the academy as a number 10 but has so far been used off the right-hand side of attack by Pochettino, where he has looked a threat.
A source close to the club has claimed Onomah has been the best player in training for the last month or so, and his ascension was undoubtedly a factor in Townsend's departure to Newcastle. The England senior watched on frustrated as Onomah was used ahead him before Christmas and he is more Pochettino's kind of dynamic attacker.
It is no coincidence that Onomah has signed two contract extensions within seven months of each other. The club see a big future for him and he has met the incentives in his previous deals by being so close to the first-team.
Pritchard, currently on loan at West Brom until the end of the season, would likely have played much more had he not been so unlucky with injury. The 22-year-old damaged ankle ligaments playing for England U21s last summer, which reoccurred early in the season.
He is another player who Pochettino feels can add a dynamism to Spurs' attack and he can play anywhere across the three positions behind the striker, having thrived in these areas on loan at Brentford in 2014/15.
Pritchard also signed a new long-term contract last year and playing in the Premier League with the Baggies will add more vital experience to his game. As long as he stays fit, it can only improve him and he will return to Spurs in the summer hoping to make the kind of impact that was intended before he got injured last summer.
Harry Winks, along with Pritchard, has been unlucky not to have had more first-team appearances but for different reasons. In Tottenham's academy, Winks was brought through the ranks as a number four - a deep-lying central midfield player - but this is a position Spurs have had a number of good options in this season; Eric Dier, Mousa Dembele, Ryan Mason, Tom Carroll, Nabil Bentaleb (when fit) and Dele Alli have all played there.
Winks is a similar player to Carroll in terms of his stature and passing game, although clearly not as experienced, but has more of an industrious edge. What may work against him, however, is that Pochettino likes to have two 'destroyers' side-by-side in his midfield, something that Dembele is showing himself to be alongside Dier.
Winks signed a new four-year contract earlier in the season but his future remains more unclear. Like other players before him, including Dier, it may lie in a different position, perhaps further up the pitch.
Fast, skillful and direct, Nathan Oduwa is another exciting attacking prospect rated highly by Pochettino, and can play off either the right or left-hand side of attack.
The 19-year-old was recalled from a season-long loan at Rangers in January due to the Scottish club's interest in permanently signing winger Michael O'Halloran. Nevertheless, Oduwa improved during his time under Gers manager Mark Warburton, who developed Pritchard at Brentford.
Oduwa is the only academy graduate yet to sign new terms on offer and this is proving a sticking point over plans for a new loan move. Both parties would like to find an agreement before he moves to another club and the chance for him to join Coventry for the rest of the season therefore fell through at the end of the transfer window.
Despite knowing well in advance that Federico Fazio would leave the club in the winter transfer window, Spurs made no efforts to sign a new right-footed centre-half to provide competition for Toby Alderweireld. Why? Because of Cameron Carter-Vickers.
The 18-year-old has been training with the first-team since the start of the season and Pochettino said earlier this month that he "has enough quality" to come into the side.
And a Tottenham source recently told Sky Sports News HQ about the USA U20s captain: "Dare I say the next Ledley King?"
It would certainly be a step too far to compare the young American with perhaps the best central defender ever to play for Spurs, and one of the best that England has ever produced, but Carter-Vickers has the potential to be very good. He is strong, quick and good on the ball.
Others names to watch out for: Kyle Walker-Peters, Dominic Ball, Grant Ward, Shayon Harrison, Kaziah Sterling, Shilow Tracey, Luke McGee (GK), Tom Glover (GK), Marcus Edwards.