It was a routine win for Tottenham at the weekend and Spurs fans everywhere will be hoping for a similarly stress free 90 minutes against the same opposition as they look to book their place in the FA Cup final next month. While Portsmouth were not the trickiest opposition Harry Redknapp’s men have had to contend with at White Hart Lane this season, it was the ideal opportunity to see what one of their young stars was made of.
And Kyle Walker didn’t disappoint. The England under-21 international showed great promise in his first appearance for the club since joining from Sheffield United last summer. The 19-year-old played a major part in the build up for the second goal, playing an intelligent cut back from the by-line for the on rushing Luka Modric. It showed a level of maturity that would not necessarily be expected of someone so inexperienced. Let’s not forget that Walker had played less than a dozen times in his professional career before he was plucked from the Championship by Redknapp after impressing for The Blades in their playoff matches last May. He was loaned back to the Yorkshire club for a period originally set to be for the entire year, but he was called back after Alan Hutton’s departure on loan to Sunderland.
The oddest aspect of Walker’s arrival last summer was the fact that he came in tandem with a fellow Sheffield United player – a fellow right-sided full-back. They even share the same first name. Kyle Naughton, who is 18 months older than his team mate, had a really big impact at Bramall Lane last season – so much so that he was named in the PFA Championship Team of the year. But is there enough room for both of them to prosper in the Spurs squad or will their careers in North London go the same way as another young defender, Chris Gunter, and end rather abruptly?
Vedran Corluka is the first choice for the right-back position and is only going to get better as he is just 24 years of age himself. The Croatian may not be such an exciting full-back, who makes endless bombarding runs like Gareth Bale on the other side of the pitch, but he is very defensively reliable and in a way this full-back pairing is perfect. Of course, a club such a Spurs pushing for a Champions League spot, will want a large squad but even then I feel there may only be room for one of Walker and Naughton and with his performance on Saturday the former may have edged in front in the race for Harry’s approval. It will be interesting to see if Naughton can deliver on his undoubted promise when he returns in the summer from his loan spell in the North East with Middlesbrough.
Ultimately I see the Kyles as being too similar to both make their mark at White Hart lane. They both play in an attacking style in the same position – although Walker did demonstrate an ability to play on the left last season – and if Spurs do hold on to fourth spot, competition for places will only intensify. This will more than likely see one them being shipped out. Which one is anyone’s guess, but Walker’s fine recent display will do him no harm at all. He has certainly confirmed he has the potential to play Premier League football – but whether that is as a regular for Spurs remains to be seen.