Wednesday 21 February 2018

Spurs youngster Nabil Bentaleb keen to seize chance under Tim Sherwood

Nabil Bentaleb
Nabil Bentaleb

Paul Hirst

Nabil Bentaleb intends to make the most of his big chance under new Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood.

The 19-year-old Frenchman made his first Barclays Premier League start in the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at White Hart Lane on Saturday, and produced an impressive display where he looked good in possession and was unfortunate to see his curling shot hit the post in the first half.

Sherwood was promoted to head coach following the departure of Andre Villas-Boas and had worked with Bentaleb in the youth set-up, which the midfielder believes was key to earning himself a shot at the first-team picture having now played in five of the seven games since the change in the dugout.

"I was getting ready for a long time and I was waiting for a chance, and the gaffer trusted me and put me in so I was very happy," Bentaleb said.

"Does it help that he knows me from the youth team? Of course, he knows me better than anyone else on the pitch so it's a very big help, and I know what he wants from me as well.

"I am really enjoying [being in the first team] - and learning from it as well.

"I am training with very big players every day, and you can just enjoy it.

"The nerves, you feel them before the game, or when you're sitting on the bench and you're getting ready to come on - but once you're on the pitch you forget everything and I just focus on my own game.

"[Against Palace] I was just thinking 'I have to do what I used to do in the reserve team because that's why the coach trusted me and put me in, so I just played my own game."

With the likes of fellow Frenchman Hugo Lloris, Younes Kaboul and Etienne Capoue also at White Hart Lane, Bentaleb feels he has the perfect environment to continue his development.

"It's a very big club, all the players are very friendly and they do everything for me to feel right at the club, so it's easy for me to play in the team," he added.

"Most of the players have given me advice - on the pitch and outside the pitch. When you come onto the pitch you know that everyone's behind you and everyone wants you to do well.

"We (French players) are always here to talk to each other. It's always good to have people that you're tight to and, coming from the same country, it helps.

"I want to have a regular first-team spot, and the target this season is the Champions League, and we'll see what happens from there."

Another Spurs player hoping to impress over the coming weeks is Andros Townsend.

The winger has been sidelined with a hamstring problem since before Christmas, but is set to feature for Tottenham's Under-21s against Newcastle at Bishop's Stortford on Monday evening.

Spurs coach Chris Ramsey said: "First of all it's a great opportunity for Andros to hone his fitness after his injury, then it is an opportunity for him to help out the younger lads in the squad.

"He knows the squad and this league inside-out and we'll be looking for him to go out there and perform just like the likes of Sandro, Younes (Kaboul), Lewis (Holtby) and Jake Livermore have in the last couple of seasons."

Online Editors

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport