Tottenham look well-placed at the halfway mark of the 2015-16 Premier League campaign to finish in the top four, with Mauricio Pochettino’s side playing some excellent football this season so far.
The Argentine trainer has largely stuck with the same group of players this term to guarantee success, with a host of figures deemed surplus to requirements leaving in the summer and others not getting many opportunities to feature.
Pochettino has played a major role in bringing young players through the ranks at White Hart Lane, with a number of key men having come through the club’s academy. One first-teamer that has had to bide his time for a chance to feature in the Spurs starting XI has been Tom Carroll, who has not had the instant success of someone like Harry Kane or Ryan Mason.
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The 23-year-old has been given an opportunity to play though in recent weeks, with a tactical tweak and injuries to others giving him the chance to feature.
Pochettino opted to switch to a 3-4-3 formation against Watford at Vicarage Road last month, with the visitors needing a player in the centre of the park to dictate play as a result of the system change. Carroll was given the nod as that man and put in a solid showing, with his range of passing and distribution a key feature in Spurs’ win.
The former England under-21 international was then retained in the team for Tottenham’s clash with Everton at Goodison Park, despite Pochettino resorting to his usual 4-2-3-1 formation.
Mousa Dembele’s injury and subsequent unavailability was a key reason for Carroll getting the chance to play, but the youngster is fully deserving of his place in the starting XI currently.
Interestingly, with Carroll at the heart of Spurs’ play, the North London club put in arguably their best 45 minutes of the season in the first half on Merseyside. Tottenham completely outplayed, out-pressed and out-thought a very able Everton side and at the heart of the side was the Watford-born pass-master.
It is clear that Carroll has had to earn Pochettino’s trust and this appears now to be in place. Over a loan spell at Swansea last season the versatile midfielder showed the potential to be an able deep-lying playmaker but was not afforded enough of an opportunity to play regularly.
Whether he will get it at Spurs for the remainder of this season is up in the air, with Dembele, Dele Alli and Eric Dier all on good form.
However, Carroll can now be added to the list of young English stars thriving at White Hart Lane and certainly looks to have a role to play going forward. It is not outrageous to compare the young midfielder with former Spurs man Michael Carrick, with the pair similar in their style of play.
Carroll’s presence also offers Pochettino a unique, possession-focussed range of skills that could well be deployed against specific opposition or in certain situations.
As such, Carroll looks to finally have made the step up to being used in a squad rotation system at Spurs and could well play an important role in the side’s top four ambitions this season.