Boyhood fan Winks knows Spurs stars have his back
Harry Winks already has reason to thank his more senior colleagues at Tottenham Hotspur for helping ease his way through the ranks at the club.
Now, with the young midfielder playing an increasingly prominent role at White Hart Lane, Winks is confident those same players will ensure his development stays on track.
A boyhood Spurs fan and associated with the club since he was five, the 20year-old has emerged as the latest young player to earn the support of Mauricio Pochettino, and it is clear the manager has plans for a player who made his league debut in August and can expect to start in today’s FA Cup tie against Aston Villa.
Winks’s progress this season has been impressive – his goal against West Ham on his full league debut marking a high point – but having been initially overawed when he was promoted into the first team squad, he knows he will not be allowed to get ahead of himself.
“The first year or so when I got in the squad it was a bit, ‘Wow, I am here’,” said the midfielder.
“It was a bit strange. I am training with Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembélé. I am with them on match day in the changing room, sitting next to them.
“As time goes on, and you get more games and you train with them every day, it just gets a bit more natural. It is important not to get arrogant about it.
“It is important to stay level-headed. They don’t want someone coming in being an a-------. They would bring you down a peg if they thought that was happening. But that’s not my personality. I am not an arrogant guy. I would never do that.”
Vertonghen in particular has already had a major influence on his young team-mate, while Scott Parker continues to act as mentor despite having left the club for Fulham four years ago.
“Last season I wasn’t playing so much and Jan would say, ‘You are a good player, keep going. You will get your chances’,” said Winks.
“And Scott Parker when he was here. He used to give me a lot of advice. He gave me his number and I still talk to him. He has been there and done it.”
Pochettino’s faith in the England Under-21 international was confirmed when he introduced Winks for Dembélé as Tottenham fought to retain their lead over Chelsea on Wednesday.
“Since I have been in the first-team squad after the manager came here, he has made a point of not sending me out on loan,” said Winks.
“He wants me here to train. He said he wants me to train and stay and play here. The fact that he wants me to do that is obviously a good sign for me and that he likes me.”
Winks added: “I’ve been here since I was five, so there was never any chance of me going to another club. The manager gives young players the chance when he thinks it is right. I think he sees every player in the squad as a potential starter or we wouldn’t be here.”
Pochettino is expected to rest several key players at White Hart Lane, with Vincent Janssen, Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier all likely to come in alongside Winks. Erik Lamela is still out with a hip injury and the winger has been allowed to undergo treatment with his former club, Roma.
Star pupil: Harry Winks has listened to team-mates while rising through the ranks at Tottenham