Harry Winks is happy to be back in action for Tottenham Hotspur after his ankle injury but he admits there’s still a way to go yet until he’s back to his former self.
The 21-year-old Spurs midfielder’s superb breakthrough campaign last season came to an end with a freak accident in Aprill’s match at Burnley in April. He collided with a drinks holder in front of the dugouts at Turf Moor and had to be stretchered off with what was later found to be severe ankle ligament damage.
The injury meant he missed out on the England squad for the European U21 Championships and he spent the summer working hard to be back in time for the new season.
He has got minutes under his belt in a training ground friendly against Leyton Orient and the first two games on Tottenham‘s USA tour against PSG and Roma.
However, when football.london asked Winks whether he was now pain free from the injury, he shook his head ruefully.
“No I still get a lot of pain and a few symptoms and stiffness in the ankle which is normal it’s part of an ankle injury,” he admitted. “I just have to play through it and hopefully in the next few months and hopefully it will disappear slowly.
“It depends, I don’t think there is a time period on the pain. It goes as and when it does on its own. I think some players have had ankle injuries for years and they still felt it for a long time. Other times it can go in months it just depends.
“Harry Kane and Jan Vertonghen have given me some good advice. A lot of the lads who have had ankle injuries have given me their experiences they have drawn upon and it just gives you more of a clear mind on what to expect.”
He added: “The injury was probably the hardest and most difficult time of my career so far because when you are doing really well and you start to get opportunities and there are big games coming up like the FA Cup semi final and the North London derby, there were a lot of games coming up and I was starting to get involved so it was tough.
“It takes a lot of strength to bounce back from something like that and work hard during it but obviously when you have good coaching and medical staff around you it seems to be a little bit easier.
“I am back fit and playing it makes you have that little more determination when you are back out on the field. I’ve been out for four months and when you have been out that long you start to miss the game and when you are out there you realise just how much you really do live it and enjoy it.”
On Thursday, Winks joined other players such as Harry Kane in speaking to youngsters at Tennessee Soccer Club and sharing their experiences of coming through the academy at Tottenham.
The midfielder explained what it’s like to play under manager Mauricio Pochettino.
“It’s what you dream of as a young academy player in England because opportunities are difficult and that’s well documented because in England it’s tough for young players to get opportunities,” he said.
“The manager has proved since coming here that if you work hard, show the right commitment and right mentality he will give you an opportunity. And as long as you repay that faith to him then it will still come.
“The most important thing he likes to drill into us is to work hard. That comes as the base. We have to work hard for each other, for the team. Obviously the individual bits of brilliance that every player can have is within themselves.
“But if we work hard as a team and we work hard as a group and a unit, then that’s something that we can bring on ourselves.
“Sometimes if he believes that a certain player needs to work on a certain thing or he wants to share some of his experience with us then he’ll do that. Usually from my experience he seems to tell the group as a whole what he expects and it’s down to us what we do with that information.
“But if he believes there’s something we need to improve on or work on, he will pull us over in training or show us in his office clips of what he wants us to do.”
And what are Winks’ own goals this season after his fine campaign last time around?
“I want to kick on from last season and play more,” he said. “I had a good season last time and I was really happy with myself but this season I want to improve even a player and kick on even more and be involved in as many games as possible.”