Georges-Kevin Nkoudou takes massive opportunity, but must keep improving according to Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino
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The 22-year-old produced one of his best displays in a Spurs shirt to show he can be a genuine option off the bench moving forward
Mauricio Pochettino was pleased to see Georges-Kevin Nkoudou take his chance to shine last night, but called on the youngster to keep improving after an encouraging first start since January 28.
The winger, who joined the club in the summer of 2016, has struggled for minutes this season after making 17 appearances during his debut campaign.
Nkoudou seemed to be way down the pecking order, but was handed a rare start last night and took his opportunity.
He looked lively on the left from the start of the game and after testing APOEL’s goalkeeper Nauzet Perez on several occasions, he finally got on the scoresheet in the 80th minute.
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Although his effort took a deflection before finding the corner, it was definitely his goal and showed the ex-Marseille attacker can be a genuine option for Spurs going forward.
“Does he have a future at Tottenham? Yes, of course. He is so young, so we need to be careful with the young ones,” said Pochettino.
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“He’s so young and it’s about the tempo, timing and when you come from France and a lot of things happen in your life, sometimes you need more time to adapt and to start to perform.
“I told you before he is a great kid, he always has a smile (on his face), he is very nice and all of the people love him.
“We feel bad and I feel disappointed when you cannot give him the possibility to play, but it is trying to push him, trying to help him.
“Of course it was a massive opportunity for him and we are so happy. Now, we need to push him to improve and improve and improve.”
The trouble for Nkoudou is he will only get better with more game time, but after this display, he will surely be back among the substitutes in the Premier League.
Before last night, the 22-year-old had not been included in Tottenham’s match day squad since the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on November 5.
Erik Lamela’s return from a long-term hip problem was viewed as another potential block in Nkoudou’s pathway to the first-team.
Yet, he should take a lot of confidence from yesterday and with Spurs previously struggling to break down sides at Wembley, the youngster may provide Pochettino with a much-needed alternative option moving forward.
“I’m happy for him, it’s been difficult, so it’s so, so good that he scored and yes, he can smile again like it was for (Fernando) Llorente,” said the Tottenham boss.
“He is still so young, but I told you before I was happy in the last few weeks with how he worked and how he reacted and this way he only can improve and only can help the team and help himself.”