Caution needed with Parrott despite encouraging Tottenham debut
PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 July 2019
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The 17-year-old caught the eye in Spurs' win over Juventus, but his tender age must not be forgotten amid talk of a regular first-team spot
As expected, it has already started when it comes to Troy Parrott. The 'next Robbie Keane' is the talk of the town after an excellent 45 minutes against Juventus in the International Champions Cup on Sunday.
Excitement was rife once Tottenham Hotspur confirmed the teenager was part of the squad for the tour of Asia and boss Mauricio Pochettino handed him a starting role in the team's opening pre-season game.
It's fair to say Parrott didn't disappointment - playing a key role in the first goal of the friendly being scored by Erik Lamela.
He made a fine outside run for Heung-min Son and although his side-footed effort was saved by Gianluigi Buffon, the rebound was tucked away by Spurs' number 11.
Only half an hour into his unofficial first-team debut, Parrott had already made his mark and through the first half he caught the eye with his pressing and neat touch plus his exceptional movement.
There can be no doubt Tottenham have a big talent on their hands, but patience and a touch of realism is needed regarding the 17-year-old.
Parrott's age is enough to suggest caution despite the positive impact he made against the Old Lady in Singapore.
Spurs boss Pochettino could hand him another opportunity on Thursday when they face Manchester United in their latest pre-season encounter, this time in Shanghai.
If Parrott continues to impress it may mean he gets chances during the 2019/20 term for the senior side, but calling for him to be part of the first-team fold throughout the campaign is maybe unwise.
This is a player who only signed his first professional contract in February and who has not featured that much for Tottenham's under-23s.
Being fast-tracked is fine, but going from under-18 hitman to Harry Kane's back up is an enormous jump when the development team in between is there for a reason.
Parrott might be ready for the Premier League and yet a big question now should be what will enable him to remain on track for stardom - the answer is minutes.
While training with Spurs' first-team will be extremely beneficial to the Republic of Ireland youth international, sitting on the bench and making the odd cameo here and there but missing out on regular game-time will not.
He scored goals for fun under Matt Wells for the under-18s and in the UEFA Youth League last season and then got a promotion to the development team.
An injury, which sidelined him for seven weeks, curtailed his trajectory a touch and saw him miss out on being part of the first Spurs team to play at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in an under-18 match against Southampton in March.
But Parrott recovered to help Wayne Burnett's under-23s avoid relegation and now is making a name for himself with the first-team out in Asia.
Pochettino and Jesus Perez are fans of the forward according to former Spurs striker Keane and chances in the League Cup and FA Cup may occur for the youngster, but playing week in, week out for the development team is surely his best bet currently.
If that's the case he can continue to train with the first-team and being a goalscorer on a regular basis in Premier League 2 will earn him further opportunities.
Academy star Harry Winks benefited from being part of Pochettino's squad as a teen and eventually make a breakthrough a couple of years later, but Kyle Walker-Peters is an example of that pathway not always working.
The full-back has not featured enough over the last two seasons and it is hard to argue he is a better player now compared to his Premier League debut at Newcastle United in August 2017.
For Parrott, that should serve as a warning and the best thing the teen can do is ignore the hype following him and remain focused ahead of a 2019/20 campaign which will be memorable for the forward whatever happens.