Tom Carroll must be admired for his commitment to Tottenham Hotspur.
The 23-year-old, who worked his way up through the club’s academy, has been given the option to seek first-team football elsewhere a number of times, but has always been intent on forcing his way into the starting XI.
Carroll is far from a complete player at this stage. He is, however, an excellent passer of the ball, and offers a lot going forward.
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While he may have made just 17 senior appearances in the four years since making his debut, he proved in his most recent loan spell – a year-long stint at Swansea City – that he is Premier League standard.
His problem at Spurs, though, is that he is competing with the likes of Moussa Dembele and Dele Alli in the centre of the park.
Alli has quickly become one of the first names on the team sheet in his short time at the club, while Dembele is far more experienced and a better tackler.
Dembele made his return from injury against Sunderland, and with both him and Alli on the pitch, it is difficult to envision where Carroll would fit.
Confined to the bench
The real difficulty is that Carroll should be heading into his prime, but if he wishes to stay at Tottenham, he will more likely than not find his role on the bench for large periods.
In many ways, he finds himself in a similar situation to Andros Townsend. Townsend spent a long time breaking into the first team, but now appears to be heading out the door after falling out with boss Mauricio Pochettino and finding himself on the fringes.
Should Carroll count his losses?
Whereas Townsend has decided to count his losses – admittedly with some help from the club who evidently no longer require his services – Carroll appears content to keep working for a place in Pochettino’s side.
Despite the young midfielder being hammered by some sections of Spurs’ fan base for his performance against Newcastle in December, Pochettino appears to be willing to persevere, and that could well pay off if Dembele continues to struggle with injury.
Carroll is as strong a back-up as Spurs are likely to find, particularly as one who is so committed to the club. That may be where his future lies in Pochettino’s mind, but it remains to be seen if he is willing to miss out on regular first-team action for much longer.
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