Whilst not an exceptional footballer, a high level of performance was always expected of the full-back, and he was clear second-choice right-back behind Kyle Walker at White Hart Lane. He had made 11 appearances for the Lilywhites prior to the transfer, and was providing adequate cover for Walker at the beginning of the campaign, when the starter was out injured for a number of weeks.
With Walker now fully fit, he has rightfully claimed his place as first-choice right-back in the side, and Naughton was pushed out of the squad. American youngster DeAndre Yedlin will be second choice when he is fully fit, but, having arrived in North London in the winter, there is still no indication that he is close to match action.
With Walker now the only available right-back, the question must be asked whether Spurs made a mistake in letting Naughton leave whilst their squad depth was under question.
At the point of Naughton’s departure, Spurs were fighting for League Cup success, looking to progress in the Europa League, and hoping for a Premier League top-four finish. In the last week, two of three competitions have ended in despair, and the Premier League race looks tough.
An inability to correctly rotate the first-team squad looks to be the cause of many of these problems, with the once energetic team now looking depleted heading into games. They could not get started against Fiorentina, whilst the League Cup Final defeat saw a fairly mundane performance from Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
Whilst there are problems all over the pitch with squad depth, it is the right-back position which is so evident. With Walker first-choice and looking to play in the Final, there was no way he would start the Europa League second leg. Yedlin is yet to feature, leaving central defender Vlad Chiriches to start at full-back - with no great effect. The Romanian is hardly a bad player, but he looks far from comfortable at full-back, and, although it is unfair to pin an entire defeat on one player, the defensive errors in the loss to the Viola may have been avoided with players in their natural positions.
If Naughton was still in the squad, he would be a like-for-like replacement for Walker, and would come in to an important fixture and perform to the best of his ability in a correct position. There is no doubt that he would have helped keep the squad fresh and ready for action, and he has proven with the Swans that a run of consistent football - he has started five consecutive games - is enough to prove he is Premier League quality.
Naughton left Spurs as a player not good enough for their top-four ambitions, but, in doing so, left a gaping hole in Pochettino’s squad. When Yedlin is ready for action Naughton’s loss will not be so heavily felt, but, as of now, it should be considered that Tottenham made a mistake in allowing the 26-year-old to leave White Hart Lane in January.