It may be just a matter of weeks into his Tottenham Hotspur career, however, summer signing Djed Spence must already be questioning his decision to make his move to north London, having been on the periphery at his new club in the early weeks of the season.
Saturday’s 2-1 victory over newly-promoted Fulham saw the 22-year-old yet again restricted to a viewing brief, with his sole outing so far this term having come as a late substitute in the win against Nottingham Forest.
That one-minute cameo may well have rubbed further salt into the wounds of the wing-back amid his difficult spell with the Lilywhites, having potentially come close to making the move to Forest after a sparkling loan spell at the City Ground last season.
It was that form for Steve Cooper’s side – in which he scored two goals and provided four assists in 42 Championship games – which had put the Englishman firmly on the map after having fallen out of favour at parent club Middlesbrough, subsequently leading to his move to his current side.
That switch has almost appeared doomed from the outset as manager Antonio Conte hardly rolled out the red carpet upon his arrival in the capital, with the Italian insisting that the £20m man had been an “investment for the club” rather than his own personal choice.
The former Chelsea boss has only recently reiterated that sentiment, with it already looking as if Spence could be a victim of the 53-year-old’s often ruthless, short-term approach, having previously been criticised for his lack of focus on youth during his time at Stamford Bridge.
There had even been the suggestion that the serial-winning coach was looking to sign yet another defender to play in that role, despite already having the former Boro man, as well as Matt Doherty and Emerson Royal, in his ranks.
Although no such deal came to fruition, it emphasises just how poorly the manager views Spence at present, with it hard to see the London-born starlet getting much of a look-in outside of domestic cup competitions.
Keeping the 6-foot-1 menace shackled to the bench this term would, however, be a huge mistake, with the explosive talent having proven his quality for the Garabaldi last term, notably having been lauded by pundit Ian Wright for his “swashbuckling” display against Arsenal in the FA Cup.
It was in that competition that the England U21 international truly garnered wider attention, proving he is more than a match for Premier League opposition, with pundit Martin Keown also dubbing him a “Rolls Royce” following his performance in the 4-1 thrashing of Leicester City.
Having shone in a wing-back berth in that temporary spell under Cooper, it had appeared that he would be an ideal addition to fit into Conte’s system, particularly with the aforementioned Emerson having struggled in his debut season at the club last term.
It is the Brazilian, however, who has continued to be selected on the right flank in the early weeks of the season, albeit with journalist Dan Kilpatrick noting his ‘wayward’ passing display in the recent triumph over the Cottagers.
Should a change in selection happen in the coming weeks, however, it would seem that the aforementioned Doherty is more likely to come into the side, while even forward Lucas Moura had been used as a makeshift option in that role during pre-season.
It looks set to be a long season for Spence if the current evidence is anything to go by, while for Conte it could well be a mistake not trusting the new addition, despite having not specifically requested his signing.