Wednesday 21 September 2016 06:34, UK
Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham teenager Marcus Edwards reminds him of a young Lionel Messi but insists the winger has a long way to go to fulfil his potential.
Edwards is one of a handful of Spurs youngsters set to be given a chance in the EFL Cup third round against Gillingham on Wednesday but none have created as much excitement as the 17-year-old.
A left-footed attacking midfielder, with a low centre of gravity and lightning quick feet, Edwards is considered one of the brightest talents in his age group, having represented England at under-16, under-17 and under-18 levels.
Edwards joined Tottenham's academy aged eight and there was a feeling of relief when he signed his first professional contract in August, with some fearing he might be snatched by rival clubs.
Pochettino is likely to start Edwards on the bench at White Hart Lane but he shares fans' enthusiasm for the youngster although he adds a note of caution.
"The qualities - it's only looks, his body and the way that he plays - remember a little bit from the beginning of Messi," Pochettino said.
"He's small, he's left-footed, I remember a little bit (Erik) Lamela when he was at River Plate, remember he had long hair, when he was 14, 15 years old, there is a lot of videos on YouTube that you can see, that he took the ball, didn't give a pass and shot straight away.
"He (Edwards) is a very good prospect and potentially he can be a top player, but we need to be patient and tell him that he has a lot of talent, enough talent to be a top player, a great player. But now it's how he builds his future, that's very important. And it's our responsibility to tell him."
Other Tottenham academy products may also be on display at White Hart Lane, with 19-year-old playmaker Joshua Onomah, 20-year-old midfielder Harry Winks and 18-year-old centre-half Cameron Carter-Vickers all in contention for starting spots.
Carter-Vickers has been named on the substitutes' bench ahead of Kevin Wimmer so far this season and Pochettino believes the American also has a big future in the Premier League.
"For me, he can be one of the best centre-backs in England in the future," Pochettino said. "He has a strong mentality, quality, all the qualities for playing centre-back."
While Edwards and Carter-Vickers are considered prospects for the future, summer signing Vincent Janssen is under pressure to deliver now after Harry Kane was confirmed to have injured ligaments in his ankle.
Tottenham say the swelling around Kane's right foot makes it difficult to set a return date, but Janssen will be given an extended run, starting against Gillingham.
The Dutch striker has made five appearances for his new club so far, four off the bench, and is yet to open his account.
"Janssen has already shown the supporters he has a big passion to play, they have been excited to see him on the pitch and the energy he brings," Pochettino said.
"It's true this is a big opportunity for him to confirm all that we expect from him and he has to be ready - now that Harry is injured, it is true it has opened the door for him to play more."