Dele Alli has nutmegged half the known world already this year. His energy and purpose in the Tottenham midfield have been a revelation. I don’t believe there is any question he has the talent to feature for England’s senior side immediately, but as Tottenham fans, should we want him to?
Manager Mauricio Pochettino has come out today with comments in the Daily Star warning Roy Hodgson off using the young midfielder too soon. While these comments probably aren’t what England fans, or even Alli himself, would like to hear, as Tottenham fans they should be music to our ears. We need to be very careful to manage the creative midfielder very carefully at the moment. One needs to look no further than our talisman Harry Kane to see the potential negative effects of immediate stardom on a player. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade Kane’s successes of last season for anything, but a less meteoric rise would have lent itself more towards consistency. Alli is an exceptional talent who one day, will be physically and mentally prepared to represent his country at the highest level. I’m just not convinced that today is that time.
There is an obvious physical cost to having Alli become a first team regular for the English side. Such a promotion would add to an already hectic game schedule for the 19 year old starlet. His body will struggle to remain fit and in top shape for an entire Premier League season coupled with Cup fixtures. If we add in the variety of fixtures the England squad will compete in throughout the year you remove any ability for him to rest and recuperate. In fact, you put the opposite burden on the player. Instead of resting, he will feel the need to elevate his energy level to prove his worth as a full international. It’s probable that his England training sessions and games would be even more taxing than high level Tottenham fixtures in the short term.
It is fair to point out that even if Alli does not make the senior team, it’s not as if he will be left home for International breaks. He will still, in all likelihood, represent England at the U21 level. This still doesn’t represent a rest for Alli, but he is already a proven player at this level so his energy expenditure would be significantly lower. Playing in a U21 friendly just doesn’t require the same energy that making your first senior team start would. Even if Alli plays a full range of U21 fixtures it still leaves him fresher in comparison to the senior squad.
While the physical toll would be costly, it doesn’t hold a candle to the potential emotional taxation of a senior call-up at such a young age. While I believe Alli is more equipped than most players his age to deal with the extra attention, it’s still a task that would rob him of energy and focus. Don’t forget he was just playing in League One a few short months ago. A rocket like rise from League One to full International Duty in six months is enough to make anyone’s head spin. It’s best for Tottenham to avoid plunging him into this much, this soon.
It’s a crucial year for the Club and Alli has proven to be one of our brightest stars. While the prestige and attention of having our players reach the highest levels of International football is of some benefit to the Club, it’s not worth the cost in this instance. As Tottenham fans we should hope and pray that Roy Hodgson heeds Mauricio Pochettino’s words of caution. It might be worth 4-6 points in a tight Premier League race. Is seeing Alli in an England friendly really worth that to you?