Troy Parrott turns 19 on Thursday, a reminder that he’s still only taking baby steps in his football career even though he’s already come under the type of scrutiny that would turn the head of an older pro.
That’s why there should be caution in overreacting to every misstep in the formative stages of the journey. Only the elite of the elite go through their life in a tough trade without any setbacks.
News that his loan to Millwall has been cut short and he will instead spend the rest of the season a level down with Ipswich in League One is a reality check for the theory that Parrott could be a short-term answer to Ireland’s problems. He has to be allowed to develop at his own pace.
But it is a disappointment; there’s no other way of summing up his Millwall stay. The extent to which Spurs were keen to sort something for Parrott that would allow him to play highlights that he is still held in high regard.
We could be accused of wearing green-tinted glasses in the hype that has been generated around Parrott.
Yet there has been more to the attention around the Belvedere product than the Irish angle.
His old manager Mauricio Pochettino was a fan and there was a lot of excitement around his first team debut during his final months in the job. It wasn’t dented by Jose Mourinho’s caution and messages from the club that Parrott just needed to mature and come to terms with his status.
Millwall’s social media activity when they agreed a season-long loan move for Parrott highlighted their excitement in his capture. Their manager Gary Rowett has a good relationship with people close to the striker and that also appealed.
There was a real belief in the Championship club that the teenager could really ignite their season and give their side an X-factor.
It was fuelled by the impact that he made in training in the immediate aftermath of his arrival with word filtering out that Parrott was lighting it up.
He was deemed ready to be thrown into the fray from the outset but a quad injury in August knocked him back and he then sustained a more serious problem on his debut in September that necessitated a two-month recovery.
If anything, it built the expectation around what would happen when he eventually returned. Closed-doors football has removed a certain edge from stadiums but Parrott was under a certain degree of pressure to rouse a team that is in the bottom half of the table because of their dire goalscoring record.
Put simply, he wasn’t able to do that, starting off in a central role initially that demonstrated that Rowett had faith in him. Yet he was sluggish in his early games, adjusting to an intensity that’s another world compared to the underage levels he was used to.
He squandered chances to get off the mark and while observers felt his overall play was improving with minutes, he was redeployed to the left side
Rowell spoke in complimentary terms about Parrott yesterday, reflecting on his 14 games without a goal – he didn’t get to play a full 90 minutes.
“He was doing extra training after the training sessions and coming in on his days off to work. I don’t think he could have done any more,” said Rowett.
“Sometimes things just don’t fall for a player. I’m sure it didn’t work out how he wanted, we wanted or Tottenham wanted but now he drops down a level and tries to get more game-time.”
Ipswich boss Paul Lambert is under pressure but Parrott’s representatives do have good relations with the club.
It will be harder for him to force his way into Stephen Kenny’s Ireland plans for March while operating in the third tier but he probably needs to block that thought out. League One opportunities and starting games with the U-21 side might be a better way to spend 2021. He’s got stacks of time on his side and if his form improves then everything else will follow naturally.
His club allegiance and the fact he’s affiliated with the same agency has led to Harry Kane comparisons and while that’s a lofty bar to reach, it’s worth remembering that Kane’s maiden loan was a League One stint with Leyton Orient consisting of five goals in 18 appearances.
Patience is required.