Tottenham Hotspur U21s produced an impressive performance against Colchester United in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday night in a match that marked the debut of summer signing Alejo Véliz.
Spurs They won 5-0 against a senior Colchester team, albeit with all 11 players changed from the team that played in League Two at the weekend. This did not stop Wayne Burnett’s team from putting in an exciting performance, with a series of excellent goals (two from Jamie Donleyanother two from Jude Soonsup-Bell and one for Will Lankshear.
Every Tottenham player impressed that day, but here are seven standouts, plus a bit about Suitcase who came off the bench during the last 28 minutes of the game.
Donley has always been highly rated at the Spurs, hence the new four-man deal this year, but he has reached a whole new level this season. He already has six assists and one goal in four Premier League 2 games, which earned him the nomination for player of the month.
However, on Tuesday night, after returning from a minor injury that prevented him from playing for the England Under-19 team, he made up for lost time with a man-of-the-match performance against Colchester.
Everything good Spurs did came through Donley, who played at the top of a midfield three (practically forming a 4-2-3-1) and was a creative force. He was involved in most of the goals, providing the assist for Soonsup-Bell’s final goal, and scored two fantastic goals himself, the first with a composed finish and the second with a low effort.
Ange Postecoglou hasn’t had much time to properly analyze the academy yet and the number of high-level attacking players at Spurs hasn’t meant much time with the first team, but if Donley maintains this form throughout the season, the Australian will I want to take a closer look.
Signed from Chelsea in January, a hamstring injury ended Soonsup-Bell’s season before it really began. Now fully fit, he has hit the ground running this season with four goals and two assists in his first four league games.
Against Colchester, once he got some wayward shots out of his system in the first half, he was unstoppable in the second half.
His first goal came after an inside dribble and a crashed shot and he then doubled his tally later in the game after running into the space left by a Véliz run and hitting a beautiful finish.
The 19-year-old will likely seek a loan move in January to continue his development and looks set for senior football in the Football League.
Ashley Phillips and Alfie Dorrington
We’re grouping England U19’s two young centre-backs together, although we could easily have included the full four defenders, with Tyrell Ashcroft and Charlie Sayers impressing on the flanks.
This was Phillips’ second appearance for the under-21 team following his departure from Blackburn, having been on the bench during the Premier League match at Burnley this month.
Dorrington is a huge talent in Spurs’ backline and there will have been some concern about how much Phillips’ arrival will have blocked his path to the first team. In truth, the competition should only stimulate the youngster and if he needs a loan at first, that will only help him get more minutes in the first team.
Both defenders were near faultless as they kept the Colchester attackers at bay and secured a clean sheet for the team.
The 18-year-old also ended his first season at Spurs prematurely after he needed surgery for a knee problem that required repair. He is now back and scoring regularly for the under-21 team this season.
He was the only striker until Véliz arrived in the second half and fully deserved his headed goal just before that change. He had also set up Soonsup-Bell’s first strike and this could be a real development season for the teenager, who signed a £2million deal from Sheffield United last summer.
He worked hard against Colchester and this will give him more confidence that he can adapt to the senior game.
Also nominated for Premier League 2 Player of the Month for August with Donley, thanks to four goals and an assist, and showed off all his intricate wide play on Tuesday night.
He was a constant threat on the left for the Colchester players and the 20-year-old is likely to be working his way towards a good loan deal in January. The local team will surely have noticed him, among others.
The Republic of Ireland under-21 international goalkeeper didn’t have much to do in the match, but what he did do he did magnificently.
That included a stunning aerial save to head a header off the crossbar before Dorrington cleared the ball.
Keeley had lost his place to Luca Gunter for a couple of games in the last month, but looked in great form against Colchester and, along with his place on the tour to Australia and Asia in the summer, is on a really good development curve .
All eyes were on the Argentine, who was celebrating his 20th birthday near Colchester, and he was limited to 28 minutes after his return from a minor injury that prevented him from joining first team training until Thursday last week.
Véliz looked a little rusty with his finishing on Tuesday night, saving a couple of one-on-ones, although his movement was excellent, constantly pushing Colchester defenders all over the place, including for Soonsup-Bell’s second goal.
The most striking thing about Véliz is that he is a big unit, a tall forward who should have the physique for the English game.
He also tested himself after the game with various weight exercises and running the length of the court.
He scored 11 goals in 23 games in the Argentine top flight last season, so he is clearly a finisher and will feel ready and eager to play first-team football. Postecoglou said Spurs fans shouldn’t expect to see Véliz get minutes until the second half of the season, but the summer signing will do everything he can in the coming weeks to change that line of thinking.