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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 09:08 GMT 10:08 UK
Jackson ready to earn Spurs
Johnnie Jackson
Jackson is the England Under-20 captain

You would need to be a little bit special to break into Tottenham's midfield.

Luckily for Johnnie Jackson, he is very much a special talent.

Jackson will leave his teenage years behind on 15 August this year and in all probability he will also turn his back on the unwanted 'up and coming' tag which has dogged him for too long.

Now is the time for the England Under-20 captain - who starred for his country in this year's Toulon youth tournament - to move to the next stage and battle for a place in the first team.

Standing in his way are those four summer captures - Jamie Redknapp, Milenko Acimovic, Jonathan Blondel and Rohan Ricketts - not to mention the likes of Gus Poyet and Darren Anderton.

But Spurs' coaching staff have long been very excited about the potential displayed by this elegant playmaker, and now he is finally free from injury he could about to fulfill it.

The left-footed youngster suffered tendonitis in both knees during a nightmare 2001-2002 and was missing almost from the start of the campaign until April.

It was then that, having personally written off the season, he returned to the reserves and caught the attention of Hoddle by scoring a wonder-goal against Chelsea.

I prefer playing in midfield, but it's up to them where they play me
Johnnie Jackson
"I got a little bit lucky with the dribble bit, but I got to the edge of the box and, at 2-1 down, I thought 'I might as well have a little crack here' and it flew in," he modestly told the club's website at the time.

He was rather under-selling his mazy dribble and left-foot drive into the top corner, but Hoddle was not fooled.

The manager drafted the Camden-born player into the first team party for end-of-season games, although he did not make the final 16 on either occasion.

Finally the hot prospect made it on to the bench for the penultimate home match, a brilliant win over Liverpool.

Jackson did not make it on to the field in that match but he has played a full part in Tottenham's friendly games so far and must be confident about making his Premiership bow this term.

To that end, he will be helped by his versatility.

The 19-year-old is most comfortable in midfield - either centrally or on the left - but he can also operate in a left wing-back role.

"I prefer playing in midfield," said Jackson earlier this year.

"I think that's my best position, but it's up to them where they play me and they pick the team."

Hoddle picked a team for the first time since the end of last season on Sunday, for the senior side's opening pre-season fixture at Stevenage Borough.

Jackson was selected from the start and, as if to underline a point, after 30 minutes Acimovic played a pass through to the youngster, who cut in from the left and lofted a superb chip over the goalkeeper to open the scoring.

Remember where you heard the name first.

Talent of tomorrow

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