Marcus Edwards, the Tottenham Hotspur starlet Mauricio Pochettino likens to Lionel Messi, could be handed his senior debut against Gillingham in their EFL Cup third round tie on Wednesday (21 September).

Edwards, 17, is regarded as one of the club's brightest youth prospects. Having signed his first professional contract with the club in August, Pochettino envisages a bright future for the forward.

The Argentine insists, however, the club will treat his introduction with caution, saying they have a responsibility to be patient with his continued development.

"Marcus Edwards could be in the squad tomorrow," Pochettino said. "He could have the chance to play."

The Spurs boss continued: "The qualities – it's only looks, his body and the way that he plays – remind me a little bit from the beginning of Messi."

"He [Edwards] is a very good prospect and potentially he can be a top player, but we need to be patient and tell him that he has a lot of talent, enough talent to be a top player, a great player. But now it's how he builds his future, that's very important. And it's our responsibility to tell him."

Pochettino is expected to make a number of changes to his starting XI for the visit of Gillingham on Wednesday, with Cameron Carter-Vickers also expected to come in. The United States Under-23 international was named on the substitutes' bench for the club's opening five games of the season and is thought of highly by his manager, who believes he can become among the best in the league.

"For me, he can be one of the best centre-backs in England in the future," Pochettino said. "He has a strong mentality, quality, all the qualities for playing centre-back."

19-year-old forward Shayon Harrison was expected to be named in the squad for Wednesday after impressing during the club's pre-season tour of Australia, but an injury will delay his first-team debut.

"Shayon Harrison is injured, which is unlucky for him because he would have been in the squad for tomorrow, but he's not."