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Tottenham ace has rare opportunity to change Ange Postecoglou's transfer stance this summer

Ange Postecoglou is making some key decisions in regards to his Tottenham squad this summer
-Credit: (Image: MARTIN KEEP/AFP via Getty Images)


Ashley Phillips will have the opportunity to get a full Tottenham pre-season under his belt this summer. Making the move to N17 from Blackburn Rovers just ahead of the 2023/24 campaign, the centre-back barely had time to train under Ange Postecoglou before Spurs got their campaign underway at Brentford.

At a time when the 19-year-old would have liked to get a full pre-season in the tank and feature in Spurs' summer friendlies, Phillips only made the matchday squad once and he was an unused substitute on that occasion as the team lost against Barcelona. Making his return to Hotspur Way last Saturday with the vast majority of the squad for the first day of summer training, the Salford-born player looks set to play a prominent role in the opening weeks of pre-season.

As things stand, the highly-rated player is Tottenham's only fully-fit centre-back heading into their first friendly against Hearts next Wednesday. Micky van de Ven's involvement in the semi-finals of Euro 2024 means that it will still be some time before he returns to the club's Enfield base and the same goes for Cristian Romero as Argentina are now in the final of the Copa America.

Radu Dragusin's involvement at Euro 2024 came to an end just over a week ago and it is not clear yet as to when exactly he is due back with the team heading off to Japan and South Korea later this month. That means Phillips is the only first-team centre-back at present and he looks a certainty to start in the Hearts and QPR friendlies.

Academy ace Alfie Dorrington unfortunately looks set to miss out as he is currently recovering from hamstring surgery and he may not be back in training until potentially August or September, but that is dependent on how cautious the club are with him. Due to the current lack of available centre-backs, Emerson Royal and Ben Davies, as they did do last season, could once again be set to fill in at the heart of defence.

Phillips really does have a golden chance to make a big impression on Postecoglou and he will be determined to do exactly that as he aims to become a Spurs regular in the years ahead. To date, the 2023 summer signing has yet to play in a competitive game for Tottenham's first team.

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Phillips was included on the Spurs bench seven times in the first part of last season but Postecoglou elected against handing him his senior bow despite having to do without Romero through suspension and Van de Ven for a period of time due to injury. Heading to Plymouth in January and featuring regularly, the defender, who claimed the Young player of the Season award during his short time at Home Park, did finally appear for Spurs' first team in a post-season friendly against Newcastle in May as he was introduced off the bench by the head coach.

Phillips will be hoping that his outing at the famous MCG is his first of many appearances in a Tottenham shirt in 2024, with the player now looking set to feature against Hearts and QPR over the next 10 days. What the ex-Blackburn Rovers man could possibly do this summer is change Postecoglou's thinking when it comes to adding a new centre-back to the ranks. Speaking back in March, the Australian did admit that he wants to sign a new centre-back for the 2024/25 campaign.

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"If you’re saying 'is it an area we can strengthen?', yes it’s an area we will probably look at," he explained. "With all these things it’s about trying to strengthen the group as much as anything else. If you think about when I first arrived, we had maybe six or seven centre-backs at the club. So it’s not just numbers. It's more about the ability of those players to play the football we want and to fit in to what we're trying to build here.

"I think it is an area of the park we will look to strengthen, but I think we’ll look to strengthen all areas of the park come the end of the season. That’s planning that’s already underway, and other people are in charge of it at the moment."

Tottenham's need for a fourth centre-back is clear to see, especially with the team facing a bumper schedule next term as a result of their qualification for the Europa League. Romero and Van de Ven have tended to be Postecoglou's first-choice pairing at the back but Dragusin and the fourth centre-back option, whether that be Phillips or a new signing, will have plenty of opportunities for game time in the months ahead.

A loan move may be more beneficial to Phillips' development looking at the situation right now but Postecoglou could possibly decide that the England Under-19 international is the player who he wants as his fourth centre-back option heading into the new term if he make a big impression in pre-season. That will all become clear in the weeks ahead as Postecoglou and Tottenham fans look set to get a real look at what Phillips can do in a Spurs shirt.

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