BARLOW: Scott could complete his meteoric rise with a top flight move

MATT BARLOW: After raising Pep Guardiola’s eyebrows, Alex Scott could complete his meteoric rise with a top flight move this summer… PLUS, Oliver Skipp’s fortunes are finally on the up at Spurs

  • Pep Guardiola heaped praise on Alex Scott after Man City’s trip to Bristol City
  • The Guernsey-born teenager won Euro 2022 with England’s U19 side last year
  • Scott has not stopped developing since rising up from the Isthmian League at 16

Alex Scott was integral to England’s triumph at last year’s European U19 Championships in Slovakia, scoring in the semi-final against Italy and starting in the final against Israel. Since then, the Channel Islander has not looked back.

Already established in the Bristol City team, he has grown in stature and embraced more responsibility, and in an FA Cup tie against Manchester City shared his fine progress with a mainstream audience on terrestrial television.

Nice words from Pep Guardiola only fuelled the notion that this 19-year-old might be a very special talent.

Southampton’s academy released Scott at the age of 12 and, after a brief connection with Bournemouth, he returned to his native Guernsey, where he played at Guernsey FC, making his debut in the Isthmian League at 16, in August 2019.

There was instant recognition and by the end of 2019, he signed on a scholarship at Ashton Gate where he sped through the youth ranks under the relative cover of the lockdown rules keeping spectators out, deemed too good for the U18s and soon in the U21s.

Teenager Alex Scott hasn’t looked back since winning Euro 2022 with England’s U19s last year

The Bristol City starlet impressed Pep Guardiola after Manchester City’s FA Cup win last week

Nigel Pearson named him in the squad in his first game as manager at the club, in February 2021, and Scott signed his first professional contract as few days later. Two years on, he has made more than 80 senior appearances and Premier League clubs are circling.

His willing attitude has impressed. Some refer to it as an islander’s mentality, prepared to do what it takes. Also, an exposure to non-league football with a club where they represent the community and devote long hours to the task, which involves a 5.30am flight to away games.

They were playing at Westfield, near Woking, before a crowd of 97 as Scott was taking on Manchester City in the FA Cup.

Bristol City returned to the island to sign two more young players, last year. Ben Acey signed a professional deal and Tim Ap Sion, as a scholar. Brian Tinnion, academy director at the Championship club, has developed a good connection with Guernsey boss Tony Vance.

Scott spent much of last season deployed as a right wing back. This season, as an advanced midfielder in the number 10 role. He is creative, with an ability to go past opponents and, over time, expected to mature into a box-to-box all-rounder.

Pearson is in no doubt he has the talent to play for England and Gareth Southgate’s assistant Steve Holland was there to see him shine against Manchester City.

Scott scored a vital goal in England’s semi-final against Italy during the tournament last June

Several top flight clubs will be keeping tabs on the Guernsey-born star ahead of the summer

Top Championship midfielders 

The top ranked central midfielders in the Championship, according to the Delphlyx data rankings, are:

1) Gustavo Hamer, Coventry

2) Juninho Bacuna, Birmingham

3) Matt Crooks, Middlesbrough

One model does not fit all young footballers but there are good examples of those developing at speed who have thrived on early exposure to senior football in the EFL amid the security of familiar surroundings, where the coaching staff know them and trust them, and without the stifling glare and expectation in the Premier League.

When they are advancing at speed and the road is clear they can stretch their progress. If the road is closed, it is harder. Not impossible but they lose momentum with no guarantee of getting it back.

Plenty of senior England players have maximised this career path through the lower leagues, including Jude Bellingham who burst out of Birmingham’s academy, into the first team, overseas and strode on. He has not stopped developing.

Few other England players from last summer’s U19 Euros, many of whom will go to the U20s World Cup in the summer, have kicked on with the same impact as Scott. That doesn’t mean they won’t but they will need an opportunity.

Few at Tottenham will begrudge Oliver Skipp a change of luck. His year on loan at Norwich in 2020-21 was a huge success. He won the Championship and played every game until breaking a metatarsal in the penultimate game of the season, the first in a maddening sequence of injuries. 

Almost two years on, Skipp has benefitted from the misfortune of others. Recalled because Rodrigo Bentancur and Yves Bissouma were injured, his mature midfield displays, boundless energy and a key goal against Chelsea served to remind why there was great anticipation for his return from Norwich and why some still consider him a future Spurs captain.

Oliver Skipp has enjoyed a fruitful run in the Spurs team after the injury of Rodrigo Bentancur 

Extending a developing theme of footballing offspring… 

Kristian Shevchenko, released by Chelsea’s academy at the end of last year was recently spotted trialling at with the U16s at Watford.

Chuba Akpom broke through the barrier of 20 league goals on Saturday, the first Middlesbrough player to do so since Bernie Slavin in 1989/90, and Viktor Gyokeres moved onto 17 with two for Coventry at Huddersfield. 

There are goals in the Championship but Premier League teams remain reluctant to shop there. Of the £780m spent by the 20 top-flight clubs in January, little more than £26m went to the EFL. 

Chuba Akpom’s goal tally this season proves there are many top strikers in the Championship

The only significant movers were for Harry Souttar (£15m) and Antoine Semenyo (£10m). Partly because those chasing promotion won’t sell in January. It simply isn’t worth it when compared to the windfall of going up. 

Sheffield United hung on to Iliman Ndiaye. But also because the clubs with their international outlook would rather take their chances importing players and then say they need time to adjust.

John Metgod turned 65 last week and can add to his range of passes one for free bus travel. He is now assistant to Dick Advocaat at Den Haag, in the second tier of Dutch football, looks just as he did when smashing that screaming free-kick past Phil Parkes in 1986. 

Those of us present at the City Ground that night can join to thank West Ham’s flimsy wall for failing to stop one of the most iconic free-kick goals we will ever see.

Source: Read Full Article