New Tottenham wonderkid called up to training by Antonio Conte ahead of North London Derby
Antonio Conte has had the opportunity to take a good look at a number of Tottenham's talented academy players in recent weeks due to the dwindling first-team numbers. Without a handful of stars for the remainder of the season, the Italian confirmed in his pre-match press conference ahead of last weekend's game away at Liverpool that he only has 15 senior players to choose from at present.
Plenty from Spurs' academy have been regulars in first-team training over the past couple of seasons, with Dane Scarlett and Harvey White with the squad day in, day out this campaign and making the matchday squad numerous times. Marcel Lavinier and Matthew Craig have also been spotted in first-team training at Hotspur Way in recent weeks and earned a place in Tottenham's matchday 20, with Kallum Cesay, Malachi Fagan-Walcott and Maksim Paskotsi also involved but so far missing out on selection for a Premier League game.
Ahead of Thursday evening's North London Derby clash against Arsenal, another one of the club's eye-catching young talents was given the opportunity to show Conte and his coaching staff what he can do at Hotspur Way. Only joining the club in December from Southend United, Charlie Sayers was seen on the training pitch with the likes of Son Heung-min on the eve of the derby clash.
Making six appearances for Southend United in the National League at the start of the campaign as a 17-year-old, Spurs quickly made their move to tie up a deal for the talented defender. Captaining the U18s in his first Tottenham appearance against Crystal Palace at the start of December, Sayers, who can operate at centre-back or left-back, has played ten times for Spurs' U18s this term and twice for the U23s in Premier League 2.
The winter addition has clearly made rapid progress in his short time in north London, thus seeing him given the chance to train with the first-team squad ahead of such a crucial game. After celebrating his birthday at the end of March, Sayers penned his first professional contract with the club.
Speaking following his move from Roots Hall to Tottenham, Southend head coach Kevin Maher heaped praise on his former player after breaking into the first team as a youngster.
"For a young lad to get the opportunity to go to Tottenham, you can’t stand in his way," he told Southend's official website. "He broke into the team this season and to play at 17 in a really tough league shows a lot of character. He’s got a mature head on him for his young age and hopefully he can take that forward.
"Tottenham is a brilliant football club and they’ve got some really good people there that I know well. He’ll be looked after and coached very well and it’s up to him now to take the opportunity. He’s a great lad and we wish him all the very best and hope to see him go on and have a great career."
Having the chance to train with the first team ahead of the Arsenal match, Sayers will be hoping more opportunities come his way in the months ahead. With Lavinier and White named on the bench over the past month, that will only give the defender hope that he can do likewise so soon after his move to N17.