He was unfortunately ineligible for yesterday’s Tottenham vs. Swansea league fixture to conform to the terms of his loan spell, but the Swans towering centre back Steven Caulker has impressed in Brendan Rodgers’ side this season amidst an inevitable recall to North London in the summer. Whilst the side from South Wales have received widespread plaudits from the watching public this term with the displays of the midfield and Leon Britton in particularly being met by countless superlatives and overused clichés, Caulker’s exploits have gone a little more unnoticed but Harry Redknapp must have been keeping a keen eye on his loan star.
It is well documented about Spurs’ troubles at centre half and with the less fashionable Younes Kaboul representing the standout performer in Tottenham’s defence this season thus far, it is a case of frustration for the White Hart Lane faithful that the able pair of Ledley King and Michael Dawson are injury plagued and inconsistent in terms of their appearances.
Moreover, there was an overwhelming sense of disappointment in January that the North London club couldn’t prize away Christoper Samba from Blackburn, plumping for his defensive partner Ryan Nelsen as a questionable alternative. With two first choice centre halves ravaged by injury and two others in Nelsen and Gallas considered to be past their sell by date, there seems legitimate ground for Steven Caulker to step up and really stake a claim next season.
Caulker has started 19 of the Swans’ 31 Premier League games this term and has forged a successful defensive partnership with Ashley Williams which has kept the Premier League hungry Garry Monk and Alan Tate frustratingly on the sidelines. Caulker is everything you would want in a centre half; tall, rugged and relatively pacy for a man his size.
Brendan Rodgers said of the 20-year-old early last month
“Steven is going to be a top player. He is only 20 years of age, but he’s been a dominant player for us, brilliant all season. He’s still got a lot to learn and improve on in his career, but he is a wonderful talent for his age and he has a great future ahead of him. But as for signing him, I think Tottenham have got a big future planned for him there so I don’t think they’ll be selling him.”
Whether Harry Redknapp remains at Tottenham or not, the implementation of Steven Caulker in the Spurs first team reckoning is a no brainer for whoever is in charge next term. Unlike Jake Livermore and Danny Rose who have tasted first team action more readily, Caulker’s only appearance in the first team was a start against North London rivals Arsenal in a Carling Cup tie in September 2010. Shaky on the night, decisions have since been made to send Caulker on loan to ‘middle of the road’ Football League clubs in Yeovil and Bristol City but these spells have really been the making of the centre back who could still play for Scotland, courtesy of a Scottish grandmother.
Often, the decisions to deploy upcoming defence-minded talents in the cut and thrust of the competitive lower decisions or a struggling side has paid dividends with the youngsters gaining more of a battling and crusading side to their game. Across North London, Arsene Wenger has utilised this policy by sending Alex Song to a struggling Charlton side and Wojciech Szczesny to Brentford. Similarly, Caulker has seemingly found himself in teams with no supposed star of flair players and his tight and responsible play serves as evidence that these loan spells were successful in terms of building confidence and hunger.
Now with a full Premier League campaign almost under his belt at Swansea, the next step up is accepted as a prominence in Tottenham’s back line. Caulker has proved he can challenge and compete in the highest division. Ahead of the summer transfer window, the Tottenham manager may be better informed to ditch a big swoop for a European defender and call upon the able Caulker to be the clubs new long-term solution in solving Spurs’ centre back quandaries.
Is Caulker ready for a step up to Tottenham’s first team or does he need another loan move? Let me know Spurs fans @ http://twitter.com/Taylor_Will1989