CARSON, CA - JULY 24: Andros Townsend #31 of the Tottenham Hotspur is tripped by Hector Jimenez #16 of Los Angeles Galaxy during the international friendly match at The Home Depot Center on July 24, 2012 in Carson, California. (Photo by RicTapia/Getty Images)
I'm going to break the fourth wall here: Every football fan on earth overrates home grown players. Every one. If you overcompensate for this by claiming our home grown players are never good enough and we always need to improve, you are purposely being negative to feel like you are being objective. Everyone is always attached to home grown players, and that's fine.
In the case of Tottenham Hotspur, a couple of great youngsters are currently coming through the ranks. In Europa League competition and in friendlies, we've had the chance to get good looks at Andros Townsend and Tom Carroll, and you'll be hard pressed to find a Spurs supporter who doesn't like what they see. Everyone varies on their level of praise for the youngsters, but everyone at least hopes that they will develop into first team players shortly.
We're not hoping this just based on blind hope for home-grown stars, especially in the void left by Ledley King's retirement from football. They have looked very promising when we've seen them, especially so far in preseason. Carroll and Townsend were part of the small highlights package we got from the Stevenage friendly, and they continued to impress against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Tuesday.
Carroll's first touch, composure on the ball and ability to hit through balls isn't quite Modric-esque, but he does look like some kind of unholy genetic mash-up of Modric and Leon Britton. He certainly has a higher ceiling than Britton, though I don't think he'll ever be Modric. He looks like a guy who can contribute as a glue guy in a midfield three right now in the Premier League, and I'm pretty stunned by how quickly he's gotten there.
Townsend is hard to judge because his playing style is unconventional for a player with his body type, but he was incredibly impressive against the Galaxy. His fearlessness when running at defenders is fantastic to see out of such a young player, and he has a surprising bit of quality on his crosses. He's also already more of a two-footed player than either Aaron Lennon or Gareth Bale.
I don't know how good these players are, or what their ceiling is like. Townsend is not as good as Bale or Lennon at the moment, but is he already better than Bentley? Almost certainly. Is he good enough to regularly make the 18-man squad and come off the bench as an impact sub? I think he is, but I acknowledge my bias. I almost certainly overrate Townsend.
In the case of Carroll, I fear I overrate him more. I know that Tom Huddlestone is recovering from a year-long layoff and that it will probably take him until the winter to look anything like the player he was two years ago, but Carroll was better than Huddlestone on Tuesday. By all accounts, he was better than Huddlestone against Stevenage as well. I thought he was better than Jake Livermore and Jermaine Jenas. He looks like he can play in the Premier League right now.
How good is Carroll, relative to those players? I venture to guess that he will continue to be better than Huddlestone this preseason, but Huddlestone will eventually regain his lost form when he has enough minutes on his surgically repaired ankle. I don't think he's a better player than Livermore right now, but who knows how soon he could be? I also don't think he's comparable to Jenas, whose primary role is as a runner and not a linking player, but there's a chance that he's a better footballer than Jenas right now, and that he always will be.
I'm curious what everyone here thinks about the pair. We know Townsend and Carroll will get opportunities in Europa League this year, provided that a Premier League club does not come in and promise Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood that they will be first choice starters if sent out on loan, but will they get more of an opportunity than that? Can they regularly make the 18-man squad in the Premier League? I'm expecting very wide-ranging opinions on this.