Given the 2-0 victory over Manchester City which sent Spurs top of the Premier League, it is understandable that the Under-18s’ win over Southampton didn’t get much of a mention. However, for keen followers of Spurs’ youth teams, the performances on display in the 7-0 victory only helped reinforce the excitement surrounding a number of players.
Two players in particular stood out – midfielder Alfie Devine, an England youth international, is a precocious talent and has already appeared for the senior team, albeit in pre-season friendlies. It is considered a matter of time before he appears in a competitive game, despite only turning 16 in the summer.
But it is Dane Scarlett, the scorer of four goals against the Saints – including a hat-trick of headers – who is the focus of this article.
Like Devine, Scarlett is a 16 year old England youth international. He also appeared in the pre-season friendlies against Ipswich and Reading. But while Devine is a box-to-box midfielder whose technical ability is matched by his relentless work rate, Scarlett is a natural goalscorer, with his four goals against Southampton taking his tally to ten in just eight appearances this season.
Scarlett first appeared for the Under-18s at just 15 years old, making four appearances and scoring his first goal at that level against Aston Villa in October 2019. However, a horrible knee injury in the following game ended his entire season.
It says a lot about his character and his talent that, not only did he battle his way back to full fitness, he also forced his way into Jose Mourinho’s pre-season plans making two appearances.
From there he has made up for lost time. He is currently the highest scorer in the Under-18 Premier League, with highlights including a goal in the 2-0 win over Arsenal and a brace and two assists in the 4-1 thumping of West Ham.
He is moving through the age groups for England, scoring for both the Under-15s and Under-16s. He would have made his debut for the Under-17s this autumn too, but had to settle for training matches against Derby Under-18s and Reading Under-23s. He still scored though.
We will not be falling into a lazy cliche by touting Scarlett as ‘the next Harry Kane’ – he is just 16 years old and it adds unnecessary pressure and expectation. To compare a player who has yet to make a single senior competitive appearance to one of the best centre forwards in world football is patently ridiculous.
However, there are certainly encouraging signs that Scarlett has what it takes to make it to the top. The sheer weight of goals he scores certainly doesn’t hurt and, as mentioned previously, he showed great character to come back so impressively from a serious knee injury. Jose Mourinho, one of the most decorated managers in history, has clearly seen something he likes, and training alongside Kane can only have a positive influence.
For now though, Scarlett will first look to make the step up to the Under-23s and, if he continues to be so prolific in front of goal, it will be a case of when, not if. With Scarlett not turning 17 until March, it is unlikely that we will see him in the first team squad this season, but between Scarlett, Troy Parrott and Jamie Donley, the future of Spurs’ strike force is looking very bright.
There is still a way to go, but you feel we won’t have too long to wait until we see the name ‘Scarlett’ appearing on a Premier League scoresheet.