Tottenham teenager Oliver Skipp can prove to Mauricio Pochettino that he does not need to dip into the market and buy another centre midfielder, if he turns up against Tranmere on Friday night in the FA Cup third round.
18-year-old Skipp has made just one Premier League start for the north London side this season, which came in the 1-0 win against Burnley following his three-minute cameo against Southampton the week before.
Against the Clarets, the Spurs academy graduate earned rave reviews for his performance, most notably from his boss Pochettino, who said that he ‘played like a 30-year-old‘ such was his composure on the ball.
He hasn’t started a game since, as Eric Dier, who was ill on the day Sean Dyche’s side visited Wembley, has returned to the team, but the youngster will almost definitely make his second start in a Tottenham shirt against the League Two side.
You may argue that the quality of the opposition isn’t good enough for Pochettino to abandon his transfer plans should Skipp perform well, but there is something particularly troubling even for the most accomplished of players about playing in front of a raucous atmosphere against a side lower down the football league.
The usual uneven surfaces, the pumped up performances of those lower-league players trying to prove themselves in front of the cameras, and much more; these early FA Cup ties are tough, but if Skipp can deliver a measured, controlled performance, it could allow Pochettino and Daniel Levy some room to breathe until the summer window.
Understandably, the decision not to sign a midfielder back in the summer caused outrage amongst Tottenham fans, but Skipp could still provide the depth needed for Spurs to see out the season – they will need all hands on deck, as they are still in the race for four pieces of silverware.