The Lilywhites welcome midtable and managerless League One outfit Portsmouth to north London and it is surely time to see Pape Matar Sarr given a runout as the 20-year-old dynamo has all the attributes to carry Spurs to the fourth round.
Indeed, the Senegal international has caught the eye with a couple of cameos from the bench in recent outings and his powerful presence in the heart of the pitch could help the top-flight giants demolish Pompey and avoid being the upset of the round – just like they were last year, losing to Middlesbrough.
Speaking about the midfielder in his pre-game press conference, assistant manager Cristian Stellini waxed lyrical about his ability to reporters (via football.london):
“He’s a very young player and it’s the first time he came to England. One year experience in Ligue 1. About [his] skill, he can do everything. Great player with many possibilities and [can] play in many different positions.”
Having cost around £14.5m from the Ligue 2 side, Sarr has also been praised by transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, who described him as a “fantastic talent” with “real potential” and one that plays in the “style of [Paul] Pogba,” which is a particularly glowing endorsement and further reinforces his quality as a box-to-box midfielder.
That sort of role is much needed in Conte’s system, with him only deploying two in the engine room and after three tackles, two clearances, one interception and one shot from the aforementioned half an hour of game time, it’s clear that he has all the qualities to punish the Football League minnows.
If he can do the business against Premier League opposition at 20, then he’s capable of ripping apart what should be an easier tie on paper.
As such, the midfield monster – who The Athletic’s Jack Pitt-Brooke dubbed a “big talent” who’s “one of the best young players in the world in his position” – must be unleashed on Portsmouth today.