Oliver Skipp averts Tottenham’s midfield crisis and plays a key role in the top-four category
It was late July, the day before Tottenham’s penultimate friendly, when Oliver Skipp went for a header with a team-mate in training and was caught painfully on landing.
Skipp had a deep cut in his foot that required multiple stitches and the wound was so grisly that several of his team-mates had to look the other way as he was treated on the courts at Hotspur Way.
The midfielder also suffered a hairline fracture to his heel and would not return to action until October as a substitute in Spurs’ north London derby defeat by Arsenal.
For Skipp, the freak injury came at a terrible time. The 22-year-old was on his way to prove his fitness to Antonio Conte after missing the second half of last season with a tricky pelvic injury that sent the Spurs head coach at war with the club’s medical staff.
Previously, Skipp had been a key player for Conte, starting nine of the Italian’s first 12 games, but his pelvic problem linked to the January signing of Rodrigo Bentancur meant Spurs quickly moved on without him.
Conte doubted Skipp’s sharpness in the first half of this season, limiting him to just two league starts before the World Cup and sending him off before the hour mark in both and one in the League Cup.
Up until the end of last month, the young midfielder seemed on course for a losing season but injuries to Bentancur and Yves Bissouma, both of whom will be out for the remainder of the season, presented Skipp with an opportunity he grabbed with both hands.
After being sidelined in last month’s Champions League game against AC Milan at the San Siro, Skipp has completed 90 minutes in all but one of Spurs’ last seven games and is finally finding his form and confidence again.
The crisis foretold by the loss of Bissouma and Bentancur did not materialize and Skipp has helped Spurs win the fourth-place race with victories over Chelsea, scoring his first goal for the club, West Ham and Nottingham Forest.
The crisis foretold by the loss of Bissouma and Bentancur has not materialized and Skipp has helped Spurs win the race for fourth place
He also impressed in both games against Milan and was one of the players rested – disastrously – for the FA Cup defeat at Sheffield United.
In Saturday’s 3-1 win over Forest, Skipp was an eye-catcher again and was unlucky not to record a superb assist when his raking pass was forcefully terminated by Richarlison, only for the Brazilian to rule out the Brazilian’s first Premier League goal for Spurs became VAR for a narrow offside.
Skipp helped Spurs dominate a mellow Forest side by consistently showing the ball in tight areas, spraying passes onto the field and, along with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, providing a platform for Harry Kane, Heung-min Son and Richarlison.
Kane scored twice and Son added a third after Richarlison’s early miss, before Joe Worrall hit back for Forest and Fraser Forster saved an Andre Ayew penalty. Skipp received a standing ovation when he was replaced and if Spurs are to maintain their drive to return to the Champions League and salvage something from a disappointing season, Skipp feels key for the last 11 games.
Having outgrown England Under-21 teams, he will also be eyeing a senior call-up and should be on Gareth Southgate’s radar ahead of the next European Championships, although this month’s internationals are likely to come too soon.
https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/tottenham-skipp-conte-spurs-b1066888.html Oliver Skipp averts Tottenham’s midfield crisis and plays a key role in the top-four category