Tottenham Hotspur are surely looking to put the past seven days behind them as they take a break from Premier League action later this evening.
Jose Mourinho’s side head to Championship outfit Stoke City in a bid to make the Carabao Cup semi-finals, and it presents an opportunity for many of Spurs’ fringe and youth players to make a meaningful impact, and to send them into Christmas smiling.
Last week, the north Londoners were beaten by a late Roberto Firmino header in a 2-1 defeat to Liverpool, which was followed up on Sunday with a complete no-show against Leicester City as the Foxes did a number on them to force the back down to sixth in the league.
The illustrious Portuguese has won this very competition four times in spells with Chelsea and Manchester United, and he couldn’t have asked for a more favourable tie.
But with fixtures coming thick and fast over the festive period, rotation is in order.
Carlos Vinicius could be handed the reigns from Harry Kane in attack, whilst Joe Rodon will surely be given a chance to impress the boss. There should even be minutes for Gareth Bale, who has managed just 45 minutes of action in the past two weeks.
Even though he should start, you can forget about the Welshman as it’s time for Mourinho to turn to youth and there may be none more deserving than Alfie Devine.
He was spotted in training alongside the Real Madrid loanee on Friday, so there’s a great chance he’s involved for this trip – Journalist Alasdair Gold claimed that Devine has made a “real impression” on the senior coaching staff.
Great to see 16-year-old Alfie Devine continue to be involved in first team training here and there at Hotspur Way. He's made a real impression on the coaches at Spurs since joining in the summer. pic.twitter.com/IptVCHZrcl
— Alasdair Gold (@AlasdairGold) December 18, 2020
The 16-year-old summer addition from Wigan has continued to impress for both the U18 and U23 squads – in their respective PL competitions, he’s bagged three goals and provided one assist from midfield having played as a defensive anchor as well as a no.8 and no.10, per Transfermarkt.
Mourinho has already shown that he isn’t afraid to give the youngsters a chance – Dane Scarlett became the youngest ever player to feature for Spurs earlier this season he came on versus Ludogorets in the Europa League.
And with Harry Winks not fancied, and the likes of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Moussa Sissoko due a rest, Devine could fulfil a spot in midfield this evening.
The teen sensation made the Guardian’s next generation ’20 to watch’ list in the summer as they noted him as an “imposing box-to-box” dynamo, whilst the Latics chief Jonathan Jackson dubbed him a “very talented footballer” who has “huge potential” after he signed a pro deal there prior to his £500k Spurs move.
Even Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher has spotted his potential too, he tweeted: “Watched Alfie for a couple of years & he’s top class.”
With Oliver Skipp out on loan, it’s time for fans to see their next midfield gem in Devine.