Skipp determined to impress Spurs as he develops with Canaries and England U21s
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Oliver Skipp is a young man with a plan, but knows he has much work to do if he’s to make the most of his Norwich City loan and progress his highly-rated prospects as a potential Tottenham Hotspur star.
The 20-year-old has played every minute for the Canaries so far this season, as he gets stuck in to his first stint away from Spurs.
“I’d done two years of being in the squad, getting odd bench appearances and minutes here or there, but for me getting a full season of hopefully playing week in, week out, will be massive for me in the long run,” said Skipp.
“I feel like that can really benefit my game understanding. In the Championship you maybe come up against a physical team one week and a team that likes to play the next, so it’s a wide experience for me. It’s one that I think will really benefit me when I go back to Spurs.”
Having made his senior debut for the north London giants shortly after his 18th birthday, Skipp signed a contract until 2024 in July, having made 23 appearance for his club - before setting his sights on a loan.
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“It was always something that I wanted to do this summer,” he continued. “Obviously you go to Norwich with not the expectation that you can play every minute but one that you can really push and try to get into the team.
“It was one that I felt like as I went quite early on in the window it really allowed me to get a full pre-season and really integrate with the team, and I think that’s really helped me with the first few games.”
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Daniel Farke’s passing style was a big attraction for Skipp as well, who is with the England Under-21s ahead of a European qualifier against Turkey at Molineux on Tuesday night.
“If you look at the style Norwich like to play, that really suits my game,” he added. “It’s a team that you even saw in the Premier League perhaps that it didn’t go the way they wanted but they kept to their philosophy and to their style of play that they felt would be effective.
“It’s one that I think really fits into my game, so it was a quite obvious choice in those terms and I feel like they’re a big club in the Championship, one that’s pushing forward - and hopefully can get back to the Premier League.”
Skipp has already experienced the pressures of being relied upon, with Daniel Farke stressing that the youngster’s positional sense and tactical awareness are a work in progress.
During the 2-2 home draw with Preston it was Skipp who had unwisely pushed North End centre-back Ben Davies at a corner, seeing his opponent crash to the deck like a piano dropped from a great height to concede a naive penalty. In the same game he didn’t track Scott Sinclair’s run into the box as City’s defence got in a muddle and Preston were able to reclaim the lead.
Yet while Norwich have lost their last two games, 1-0 at Bournemouth and 1-0 at home to Derby, there have been signs of a well balanced and tenacious central midfield pairing alongside Lukas Rupp, in battles that Farke’s team have dominated but failed to create enough chances.
So it’s the Spurs talent leading the way for accurate passes so far with a total of 209, according to WhoScored.com, ahead of centre-back Christoph Zimmermann on 201 and left-back Xavi Quintilla on 195.
Ben Gibson, after an impressive debut, currently leads the way with a pass completion percentage of 90.9pc, ahead of Rupp on 87.9pc, but both have played fewer than half of the minutes Skipp (87.4pc) has so far.
“I like to start attacks, get on the ball from deep and my game helps teams build out from the back, especially at Norwich where we’re really encouraged to do that,” he explained, while away with the England Under-21s this week.
“Also I like to try and play passes in between the lines to midfield players. Then from out of possession I like to try and win the ball back as a holding midfielder.
“There are still things that I need to work on to get to that next level - but I’m pleased with the start I’ve made at Norwich, albeit I would have liked to have got more points for the team.”
Skipp was asked to compare himself to a player in the current England senior squad and chose a midfielder who was a pivotal player for last season’s Championship title winners.
“I’ve been really impressed with Kalvin Phillips at Leeds, with the style they’ve been playing,” he replied. “He likes to get on the ball, make longer passes, and then out of possession I think he’s fantastic.
“So I’ve been really impressed with him from the bits I’ve seen.”
Skipp was kept on the bench as the Young Lions drew a manic game 3-3 in Andorra on Wednesday, with the minnows celebrating deliriously after grabbing a deserved late equaliser.
His Canaries team-mate Max Aarons played the full 90 minutes, with Aidy Boothroyd playing three debutants and keeping his more established players in reserve, including Skipp, Ben Godfrey, Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi and Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah.
That was safe in the knowledge that qualification was already close after winning their opening six games in Group Three, with a game against Turkey at Molineux to follow on Tuesday.
Skipp, who has made 23 appearances for Tottenham and who was on the bench for the Champions League semi-finals in 2019, hopes his Norwich loan will cement his status as a key player for Boothroyd.
“Playing regularly can only help when Aidy’s trying to pick teams,” he continued. “You get that sort of rhythm that perhaps when you’re in and out of the team you don’t get, that’s a massive thing.
“If you’re playing in the team regularly you feel like you can get momentum going. So as long as you work hard, that will come.”
It’s been a strange couple of months for young England players, with Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood sent home from the senior camp in Icealnd last month after breaking Covid-19 regulations.
Those issues were brought up again this week when Gareth Southgate had to leave Ben Chilwell, Jadon Sancho and Tammy Abraham out of Thursday’s 2-0 win over Wales at Wembley, for attending a party.
Asked about the responsibilities of players representing their countries, Skipp didn’t want to comment on those incidents specifically, but spoke well about the issue.
“It is hard but I don’t think you should single out footballers, it’s hard for everyone at the moment, people not sure whether they’re going back to university, things like that,” he said. “So I feel like as footballers, yes people might get away with things that we might not, but I feel like it’s our duty and we’re fully aware of what is expected of us.
“From that point of view, it’s difficult, like it is for everyone else, but I don’t think it’s too much of an issue in terms of keeping to the rules and respecting the rules to try and get back to normal as quickly as possible. Because as a player, I think the thing that we want the most is the fans coming back into the stadiums, so I think we have got to do our bit to try and make that as quick as possible.”