Mauricio Pochettino plays Kyle Walker-Peters first-team introduction at Tottenham Hotspur perfectly
PUBLISHED: 11:00 15 August 2017
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Tottenham boss prevented pressure being placed on the 20-year-old and was rewarded with composed debut display by the right-back
Kyle Walker-Peters became the latest Tottenham Hotspur academy graduate to make his Premier League debut under Mauricio Pochettino on Sunday and he rewarded the faith placed in him by delivering an assured display.
The 20-year-old looked at home on the right-side of a back four and hardly put a foot wrong all game against Newcastle United.
Yet again Pochettino deserves a lot of credit for giving another Spurs youngster a chance and for the way he introduced the defender into the team.
After Tottenham beat Juventus 2-0 at Wembley on August 5, the Argentine was asked whether Walker-Peters was ready to start at St James’ Park if Kieran Trippier failed to recover from his ankle injury.
Pochettino replied: “Kyle is very young. It is true that to think about and give him a big responsibility, if something was wrong with Kieran, is too much.
“He is a player that needs to work with us and start to play in different games, but we cannot think that if Kieran is weeks out of the team that Kyle can replace him.
“I think we are working, but we were working before the injury happened and we have been trying to find a solution for different positions all over the pitch.”
Now only Pochettino will know what crossed his mind when he was asked whether Walker-Peters was ready to replace Trippier at Newcastle.
Was he playing mind games with the youngster as some have suggested? The World Cup winner is understood to have trained brilliantly in the lead up to Sunday’s game.
Did Walker-Peters step it up a notch after seeing Pochettino said he wasn’t going to play him against Newcastle? Or did the Tottenham boss just want to protect the full-back from the spotlight?
It could also have been a ploy to get the Magpies to prepare to face Eric Dier when it was going to be the England under-20 international after all.
There would have, understandably, been a lot made of the fact Walker-Peters was set to make his Spurs bow at St James Park.
But Pochettino prevented that by telling the press the defender wasn’t ready and so no pressure was placed on the right-back.
It was another impressive piece of management by the Spurs boss and clearly helped his young defender play with such calmness and authority at Newcastle.
Walker-Peters went on to pass his first competitive test in a Tottenham shirt with flying colours, but bigger challenges lie ahead.
Fortunately the youngster won’t come up against Eden Hazard on Sunday, although whoever Chelsea start out wide will almost certainly cause him problems.
But after an excellent debut, Pochettino will be hoping Walker-Peters can be solid again and show he is a viable option at right-back.