Tottenham Hotspur’s rising young star 21-year old Harry Winks will get his first taste of the full England squad this week, after being called up by Gareth Southgate.
The Spurs midfielder was initially in Aidy Boothroyd’s U21 squad for their games against Andorra and Scotland, and had already joined up with them on Sunday evening, before training on Monday morning.
However, both Manchester City’s Fabian Delph, and United’s Phil Jones returned to their clubs for treatment following a fitness assessment. It was then that Winks got the call to arms from boss Southgate.
Winks is a player who likes to keep the ball, and play on the front foot. He is seen as someone who is totally unphased by opponent or occasion and rarely makes a mistake.
This will have no doubt have been recognised by Southgate and the coaching squad, yet the decision was still met with some social media backlash following the announcement he was to join the senior Three Lions squad.
The main concern is that he has only had four full Premier League starts for Tottenham, and is considered by many too inexperienced to be brought into the squad at this stage.
His breakthrough came last season but his progress was hampered by an ankle injury sustained at Burnley in April.
Spurs’ boss Mauricio Pochettino, has it seems no such qualms in trusting his young midfielder following his outstanding performance in their recent Champions League clash with Cypriot side Apoel Nicosia.
He has shown great composure in all of his appearances for the North Londoners, but none as significantly as in their win over Apoel, where they were without key stars such as Christian Eriksen and Mousa Dembele.
It was only his second full start since his ankle injury, yet he was still able to compensate for the loss of Eriksen and Dembele, in a potentially tough game for Spurs.
Winks’ abilities defensively and going forward, as well as his age-defying composure and cool temperament are attributes his club are already well aware of.
This will also have been noted by Southgate and the England coaching team, and his maturity is something that is lacking in the talented but tempestuous Dele Alli.
Serving a one match ban for an inappropriate gesture in the recent tie with Slovakia, Alli will be unavailable for the game against Slovenia, but will rejoin be in contention for the match against Lithuania next week.
His club manager Pochettino has long spoken of Winks’ talent, and was recently happy to gush about his own successful decision to play him in the crucial Champions’ League tie.
The midfielders’ promotion to the senior squad will therefore come as no surprise to the Spurs boss, who has always spoken very highly of his young prodigy.
“For me he is the perfect midfielder, who can play box- to-box and as a holding midfielder. He has the quality and capacity to play, use the demands of the game and read it. ”
He furthered this when speaking to Sky Sports before their game against Huddersfield, about his ‘attacking inspiration’ if called upon.
When asked if could unlock defences he answered “Yes, he is one of the options we have in different games to use. He is completely different to the likes of Eriksen and Eric Dier, Victor Wanyama. He has qualities to add to the team”
His unique passing ability and dogged work rate also earned him the title ‘Little Iniesta’ from his boss, a high accolade indeed to be compared to the Barcelona legend.
His namesake and in-form teammate Harry Kane was quick to defend and justify Southgates’ decision, and spoke of this delight for Winks.
“He had a great game midweek in the Champions League, and the same on Saturday. He has to stay focused, not think about it too much, concentrate his job, and what will happen, will happen. On the ball, technically he’s fantastic. He reads the game very well.”
Kane is the ideal mentor for the newest member of the Three Lions, not only as teammates but as both successful products of the Spurs academy.
Winks has been at Tottenham since the age of five, Kane was 14. Spurs will be hoping for the same impacts from youngster Marcus Edwards and Josh Onomah, who have also been including in England Youth squads.
This successful combination has to be reasoning behind not only the decision to select Winks, but the reason Tottenham Hotspur boast more players in the squad than than all of the top seven clubs.
Arsenal have none, Chelsea have just one, whereas Manchester United fair slightly better, with the rest of the squad spread over the remaining top flight clubs.
There’s more to be said there about the state of the Premier League, and indeed the future of English Football when the top clubs aren’t contributing to the National game, than about Southgates’ decision to play Harry Winks.
When the argument re-surfaces that there is a lack of depth in the England team which it inevitably will, the reasons are surely to be found amongst the big money foreign buys, refilling the shelves of the Premier League supermarket, leaving little room for home- grown produce, something which the FA should be looking at very, very closely.
Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images