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Lythell: Chelsea's ex factor

Ex Files 2 hours ago
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ESPN FC Posted by ESPN staff
Jan 13, 2014

Nabil Bentaleb keen to impress

Nabil Bentaleb says he is determined to keep hold of his place in the Tottenham side after being given a chance by head coach Tim Sherwood.

Nabil Bentaleb has impressed this season.
Nabil Bentaleb has caught the eye in recent weeks for Tottenham.

Fitch: Spurs' blushes spared

Bentaleb, 19, was handed his first Premier League start by Sherwood in the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday and turned in an impressive display.

The youngster knows the Spurs boss from their time together in the club’s youth setup -- something the midfielder feels has worked in his favour, having now played in five of the seven games since Sherwood took over from Andre Villas-Boas last month.

“I was getting ready for a long time and I was waiting for a chance, and the gaffer trusted me and put me in so I was very happy,” Bentaleb said. “Does it help that he knows me from the youth team? Of course, he knows me better than anyone else on the pitch so it's a very big help, and I know what he wants from me as well.

“I am really enjoying [being in the first team] and learning from it as well.  I am training with very big players every day, and you can just enjoy it. The nerves, you feel them before the game, or when you're sitting on the bench and you're getting ready to come on -- but once you're on the pitch you forget everything and I just focus on my own game.

“[Against Palace] I was just thinking 'I have to do what I used to do in the reserve team because that's why the coach trusted me and put me in,' so I just played my own game.”

Bentaleb feels he has the perfect environment to continue his development at Tottenham, with the likes of fellow Frenchmen Hugo Lloris, Younes Kaboul and Etienne Capoue also at White Hart Lane.

“It's a very big club, all the players are very friendly and they do everything for me to feel right at the club, so it's easy for me to play in the team,” he said.

“Most of the players have given me advice -- on the pitch and outside the pitch. When you come onto the pitch you know that everyone's behind you and everyone wants you to do well.

“We [French players] are always here to talk to each other. It's always good to have people that you're tight to and, coming from the same country, it helps.

“I want to have a regular first-team spot, and the target this season is the Champions League, and we'll see what happens from there.''

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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