Boy­hood fan Winks knows Spurs stars have his back

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - SPORT - By Ian Win­row

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

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