He's had the hype... So can Troy Parrott give Ipswich Town wings?
- Credit: ITFC
Ipswich Town signed striker Troy Parrott on loan from Tottenham on transfer deadline day. STUART WATSON profiles the teenager.
EARNING HIS SPURS
Born in Dublin, Parrott was scouted playing for youth club Belvedre and officially joined Tottenham on his 16th birthday in February 2018.
A flurry of goals for the U18s saw him fast-tracked into the U23s during the 2018/19 season and he'd made two EFL Trophy appearances before the age of 17.
Off the back of that, he was called up to the senior squad for a pre-season tour of Asia where he was involved in a game against Juventus.
It didn't take long for 'the next Harry Kane' tag to be applied by excited fans.
The teenage striker was handed his senior debut, aged 17 years, seven months and 20 days, in an EFL Cup penalty shootout loss to Colchester United (September 2019). Mauricio Pochettino was sacked less than a month later, but Parrott's progress continued under new boss Jose Mourinho.
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He made his Premier League debut, as a late sub for Dele Alli, during a 5-0 home win against Burnley in December 2019 before signing a new three-and-a-half year deal, which runs until 2023, last February.
It was March before he got another taste of senior action, coming on late during a 3-2 home loss to Wolves, while he was then introduced in extra-time of an FA Cup penalty shootout loss to Norwich a few days later. Parrott failed to convert his spot-kick.
Mourinho, responding to a clamour to play Parrott more around that time, said: “I told him: ‘Every time you play with the kids of your age, you have to show your colleagues why you are the privileged one.’ Because it was something he was not doing. Every time he was playing with the kids, he was playing with the mentality of, ‘I shouldn’t be here’ or, ‘I am too good to be here.’
“Troy cannot go there (the under‑age teams) with discontent, contempt. It is a process. This is a world where lots of people don’t even know if Troy has long hair or short hair, or is blond or is dark. They don’t even know that and they speak about Troy, Troy, Troy. There was a guy behind me on the bench the other day: ‘Play Troy, play Troy.’ I don’t think he knows Troy.
"He's a good kid, a good talent, but he's a kid who needs help, not just on the pitch but outside the pitch. He is obviously going to have a real opportunity in the right moment when we feel it is the moment."
GAP BETWEEN CAPS
Parrott scored on his Republic of Ireland U21 debut in September 2019, against Armenia in a Euro qualifier. He scored two more in his next outing, against Sweden, and then was dismissed on his third, against Italy, following an altercation with Moise Kean.
Mick McCarthy had seen enough to call him up to the senior squad.
Parrott made his international debut in November 2019, starting and providing an assist in a 3-1 friendly win against New Zealand.
Comparisons with Irish legend Robbie Keane quickly began.
The man himself said: "I think we have to be careful that we're not pigeon holing him into being the next me. It's him. He's Troy Parrott. Let him develop as a young player.
"He's got ability. Tottenham love him. He definitely has a lot of potential but he's 17, and I know I got thrown in at 17, but he's still young.
"He definitely has the right temperament to be a top player. He's got everything but it's how do you get from there to there."
Parrott would have to wait a year for his second cap though, coming on as a late substitute in a 0-0 Nations League draw against Bulgaria in the November just gone.
Asked if he was pleased that Parrott had signed a new deal at Spurs back in February last year, McCarthy said: "Not really. I wish he’d gone to Charlton (who showed January interest) and played games on loan.
"It’s great for him financially, but I wish he was playing football somewhere. If he’s not playing competitive football he has very little chance of being in the squad."
INTO THE LION'S DEN
Parrott joined Championship club Millwall on a season-long loan in August.
Having had his appendix out in July, he suffered a quad injury towards the end of an impressive pre-season, then sustained ankle ligament damage on his delayed debut (an EFL Cup defeat to Burnley on September 23).
After doing his rehab back at Tottenham, Parrott returned to action eight weeks later, finally making his league debut for Millwall as a substitute in a 1-1 draw with Cardiff.
He started five of the next six games, but increasingly found game time limited as Gary Rowett turned to the more experienced forward options of Matt Smith, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Jiri Skalak as points and goals proved hard to come by.
Since the middle of December, Parrott has started just four games - two of them in the FA Cup. He leaves the Lions having failed to score in 10 starts and four sub appearances. He tasted victory just once and that was at Boreham Wood.
Millwall boss Gary Rowett, speaking at the end of December amidst reports that Tottenham would recall Parrott, said: "I’m not sure how much credence that has got in terms of being real, because we certainly have not had anything from Tottenham in terms of that being their intention.
“I think Troy came here with a view to a season of experiencing some of the ups and downs of professional football.
“He’s had his injuries, which were frustrating and disappointing after such a strong pre-season. He’s been involved in 90 per cent of the games when he has been fit though.
“There are areas I’ve been pleased with and there are other areas, which I’ve spoken to him about, where I think he can improve his game. Pre-season you saw that absolute quality he has in front of goal. He’s an excellent footballer and probably one of the best finishers I’ve seen.
“He’s a very, very good player and we know he is going to improve as the season goes on and he’s going to do what he needs to do to hopefully go back and challenge to be in Tottenham’s team."
Then, speaking on January 12, Rowett said: "I had a really good open chat with Troy after all the stories were out there that he was maybe going to go back to Tottenham.
“What you’ve seen in the last couple of games is a young player recognising what he’s got to do to play regularly. You’ve seen a really strong and mature response from Troy and he’ll get his rewards, because we know he’s got the talent.
“I’ve been really impressed with the way he’s dealt with the recent situation.”
Ireland U21 boss Jim Crawford, speaking only a few days ago, said: "I think he needs a goal at Millwall to kick on. He's still playing well in his general game. There's been massive hype surrounding him, but he's still young.
"He is a fantastic talent, an unbelievable finisher, but he's still a young boy. We've got to give him time. Troy has to work hard at his game, listen to the coaches he's working with to develop and reach his full potential."