A Thorough Tottenham Test

Gill on Spurs defeat and bigger picture

Jerry Gill says Wolves Academy will continue to look at the bigger picture of bringing players through after a young side was beaten 7-3 at Tottenham on Saturday.

Spurs are strong throughout their ranks at the present time, as shown by the first team currently locked in the race for the Barclays Premier League title.

Gill believes they are also a benchmark for many others to follow at Academy level, and that the defeat – in which Jordan Allan scored twice and Nicu Carnat the other – provided a valuable learning curve for the young Wolves’ team.

But as the younger scholars enjoy the experience of taking on such talented opponents, the Under-18s coach continues to take pride in those who have already progressed up to the Under-21 football so far this season.

“It was probably the youngest team we have fielded this season,” Gill said of the game.

“We mixed it up and Under-16s Brad Carr, Dion Sanderson and Josh Hesson all started the game.

“We only had a couple of second years in and the rest of the team were first years who haven’t had much game time such as Owen Eggington and Akeal Rehman.

“And it was really tough for the boys physically to come up against a Tottenham team who were very athletic and strong.

“I always think going to play Tottenham at both Under-16 and Under-18 level is always beneficial in terms of being a benchmark.

“I believe they are the best in the country with their infrastructure is excellent and their coaches are highly respected and people I look up to.

“John McDermott who runs the Academy has got really good philosophies and ideas on how he thinks the game should be played and what he expects of the players.

“The club is run well as a whole and that is shown by their position in the Premier League this season.

“They are looking ahead and thinking about the Academy and what it feeds into and they have done as well as anyone in the country with that in recent years, with players like Townsend, Pritchard and Harry Kane who have all come through.

“So I think it is really good for us to go down there and pit our wits against them.

“Ideally we would like to have a team that would match up theirs and we don’t want to lose the game and concede a lot of goals.

“But as I sit here now we have Christian Herc, Ryan Leak and Daniel Armstrong starting for the Under-21s at Blackburn on Monday night and Connor Ronan, who has played a lot for the 21s, not here because he has won the Under-17 player of the year for the Republic of Ireland.

“All those lads are up there on merit and  what we have to do as a staff now is see who are the next lads coming through.

“Those lads trying to come through are still young and have had to learn in really tough environment at Tottenham on Saturday.

“We did go ahead but we knew it would be very difficult and they exposed us in wide areas with two-v-ones and our lads found it hard to get their tackles in and affect them physically.

“They are technically very good and also very good at using their bodies in possession of the ball.

“We kept doing what we do – our beliefs and philosophies were the same and we tried to play out and tried to play through.”

Gill was particuarly pleased with the performance of striker Allan, who not only notched two goals but also had several other opportunities and led the line well.

“One player I would have to mention was Jordan Allan who was exceptional,” added the coach, who is spending today working with Keith Downing and England Under-20 squad.

“He made the most tackles in the game as our number 9, he was a constant threat and a pest to their back four and worked in between the centre halves as we asked him to do.

“He made clever movements in behind and linked the play really well – he fully deserved his two goals and he also hit the post and saw the keeper pull off a fine save from a ball heading into the top corner.

“Special credit to Jordan – he went out there and led the line for the team sometimes without too much support in behind him and it all clicked with him.”

Gill continued:  “There were lots of things to learn from including the preparation and in the game itself.

“There is no panic stations – we had a great run earlier in the season but we knew at some stage the team would change and it has.

“Now it is about laying down some guidelines and building for next season, getting some game understanding into the players that are just coming into the team.

“We don’t want to lose by so many goals but we did score three and I was pleased with the phase two part to our game which we wanted to improve, but we struggled with phase four and the defensive side.

“But it is not so much about results, certainly in this merit stage of the season now.

“I am judged by how many players I can get up to do well in Scott’s team and he is judged by how many he gets up there who are available to play in the first team.

“Dan Copnall has been a part of the Under-16s recently with Darren Ryan and he has been with me on a daily basis working on our training programme and giving that continuity within the Academy for those lads coming through.

“It is going to be tough between now and the end of the season but this group have an opportunity to get some games and that can only help when they come back after the summer and we have that new and fresh group to work with.”