Spurs youngster Steven Caulker delighted to have caught AVB’s eye
STEVEN Caulker has told of his delight that manager Andre Villas-Boas has given him the chance to shine at Tottenham this season.
Caulker was sent out on loan for the previous three seasons, but Villas-Boas has shown complete faith in the 20-year-old this year, starting him in Tottenham's last four matches after Younes Kaboul suffered a long-term knee injury.
The defender's performances have seen him leap ahead of Michael Dawson in the pecking order, and he also earned his first call-up to the England squad for August's friendly against Italy after excelling in Stuart Pearce's Olympic team.
Former Spurs boss Harry Redknapp was often criticised for an apparent lack of faith in Tottenham's youth products and Caulker now feels he has a better chance of becoming a first-team regular under his new manager.
"You want to know that if you are playing well and you are training well you will be in the team," Caulker said.
"It's not nice when there are favourites, I think AVB has brought that into the team and I am happy.
"The manager has come in, he's brought a few youngsters in, myself included, and he has pushed a few of us forward.
"When I came back he said I was in his plans, so I have to trust that and be patient and so far it has worked well.
"The main thing now is that I'm going into the international break having played in the team.
"I have played in a few games now and my confidence is up."
Villas-Boas and his assistant Steffen Freund have not been afraid to talk up Caulker as an England star of the future - something which has clearly gone down well with the young defender.
"To hear that from the boss is fantastic," Caulker added.
"You always have to have that self belief that you can go all the way. That is what I am in the game for."
Caulker's performance in yesterday's 2-0 win over Aston Villa, in which he scored a lucky first goal for the club, drew high praise from Villas-Boas.
"He looked impressive for the age that he is," the Spurs boss said.
"He has come in to the team and has had no fear.
"It's thanks to the work of the development team and the Academy that we are bringing these quality players through."
Yesterday's win was also a memorable one for Hugo Lloris, who was starting his first Barclays Premier League game for Spurs since his £8million transfer from Lyon.
A lot of pressure was on Lloris after his selection brought Brad Friedel's eight-year run of consecutive starts to an end.
The 25-year-old coped admirably, though, with him making only one mistake of note - a wayward throw in the second half which gave the visitors a chance to score through Christian Benteke, but he headed wide unmarked from 10 yards.
Caulker says the France captain has had no problems fitting in at Tottenham since his arrival on transfer deadline day
"He has been very humble. He has been a good character amongst the boys," Caulker said.
"He has had to be patient as well with Brad playing fantastically well.
"Hugo is learning English and he is coming along really well.
"There were no communication problems. It was fine. He understands the English that he needs to know and he was very vocal.
"He made a fantastic save when they had a one on one and he is really proving his worth."
Lloris was a spectator for most of the match, with Villa only creating one real chance - Benteke's miss.
Villa are now three points from the foot of the table after a poor start to the season, but manager Paul Lambert thinks 21-year-old Benteke and the rest of his team-mates will bounce back.
"You have to take the chances at this level but (Benteke) is only a young player and he will learn," the Scot said.
"It was a tough match but the lads kept on going so that was a positive for us. We just have to pick ourselves up and go again."