Lee Carsley believes Oliver Skipp remains underrated, despite the defensive midfielder earning a regular place in Tottenham Hotspur’s starting XI this season.
Skipp, who has appeared in all seven of Spurs’ Premier League games, is set to start for England Under-21 away to Slovenia on Thursday night and his international head coach believes that his true importance may not be realised until he is absent.
With senior manager Gareth Southgate and his assistant Steve Holland impressed by the ease with which Skipp has transitioned into a Premier League regular, having spent last season on loan at Norwich City in the Championship, Carsley is also not ruling out a late push for consideration when it comes to next year’s World Cup – especially when he is still on a sharp developmental rise.
Carsley said: “I wasn’t surprised by how well he did at Norwich. I’ve known Oli for a while. He’s very underrated. He’s one of those players that when they are not in the team you notice them. He goes about his business really well. Works on his game. I think he’s still got a lot of development to do.
“He’s going to get better, he’s going to get stronger. Physically he’ll improve the older he gets. He has outstanding ability and I’m sure Tottenham see that as we have as well over the years.”
England do not possess the same depth in defensive midfield compared to other areas. Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips have been the first choice pairing in recent months but Jordan Henderson is the only other clear option.
Asked if Skipp can stake a claim for the 23 that goes to Qatar in 13 months’ time, Carsley added: “That’s got to be the goal for all the players and ultimately our job as the Under-21 staff is to support the seniors to win major tournaments.
“Along the way we have to qualify for major tournaments and get to the last stages ourselves.
“We’re always going to lose and encourage the seniors to take the players. That’s the job and it’s an exciting part of it. Hopefully they keep up their form and keep getting in front of Gareth.”
Crystal Palace centre-back Marc Guehi will captain the side against Slovenia with midfielder Conor Gallagher, on loan from Chelsea, and Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe also set to start. Liverpool’s Curtis Jones is in contention having missed out against Kosovo.
There are no injury concerns for Carsley, although reserve goalkeeper Josh Griffiths has been replaced in the squad by Carl Rushworth.
Source by Football London