Harry Winks says his game has been unaffected by a chronic ankle injury and insists he no longer notices any pain while playing.
The Tottenham star has struggled with an ankle problem since the latter stages of the 2016/17 campaign.
After returning and impressing in Champions League games against Real Madrid last season, Winks suffered a recurrence of his injury and missed most of last year.
But following surgery and plenty of advice from specialists, the 22-year-old is now fit again and made his first start of the season in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat against Liverpool.
With it being a recurring problem, there have been inevitable fears over Winks’ long-term fitness and whether he will be able to continue playing through pain.
But the midfielder says those concerns have been “blown out of proportion,” insisting he is feeling strong ahead of a difficult run of fixtures for Spurs.
“It’s been tough, those first early stages when you come back with the boys and you feel pain every day, and your ankle’s not going to be the same as it was,” Winks said (via ESPN).
“But it’s football, I’m used to it now. I’ve been back with the boys for five or six weeks. I’m feeling strong, sharp, fit. Saturday was a good tester for me, to go out there and really try my ankle, and it felt good.
“It doesn’t inhibit me at all. I feel a little bit more pain [than before], but playing-wise it’s no different.
“I think it’s been blown out of proportion. It’s not that bad. I play football like I always have done and just mentally overcome the pain barrier.
“I go out there, focus on everything bar my ankle and on Saturday I didn’t even realise it, I didn’t notice it.
“There are hundreds of footballers out there who play with pain, and I’m just another one that has to learn to deal with that.
“I’m feeling sharp, strong, confident. I feel I’m getting back to where I was last year.
“It was a good feeling for me to be back in the starting XI but all of that gets ruined when the result doesn’t go our way and we don’t win. It’s a positive start but a disappointing end.”
Winks’ importance could increase throughout the season with Mousa Dembele having entered the final 12 months of his contract.
Tottenham fans will be hoping he can stay fit and play a more significant role this term.