Harry Winks has said he does not feel the pressure of replacing Mousa Dembele in Tottenham’s midfield.
Dembele left Spurs for the Chinese Super League last month after seven years in north London.
Under Mauricio Pochettino’s management, Dembele became a mainstay in the starting line-up, but fitness issues caught up with him in the end.
This season Winks has taken Dembele’s place in the majority of games, although the 23-year-old admits he has been playing through the pain of a long-standing ankle injury.
“It’s been fantastic, since the beginning of the season, I set some aims, I set some goals and that was just to play as many games as possible and stay fit all season and it has been good so far,” Winks said (via the Independent).
“I have played a lot of matches, which is what I wanted and hopefully fingers crossed I will stay injury free. It has been everything I wanted since the beginning of the season.
“I still have niggles here and there in my ankle which I am managing to play with.
“I have managed to somehow put that to the back of my mind and not focus on it much and probably not worry or overthink as much as I should have.”
Winks also played down suggestions he has directly replaced Dembele, adding he is unfazed by his new role.
“I learned a lot from Mousa, not only was he fantastic on the field as everyone knows but he was top off the field as well, he was a real humble guy and a nice person to speak to,” he added.
“On the pitch he was one of the best players I have ever played with and I wish him all the best.
“I don’t feel the pressure, we have got a lot of good players who can step up to the plate and I don’t consider myself as someone who has taken Mousa’s place, it is more a collective thing and if I am given the opportunity to play then I’ll play.”
Since Eric Dier suffered an injury in December, Winks has mostly been used in a midfield three with Moussa Sissoko and Christian Eriksen.
And while Tottenham remain in the Premier League title race with a relatively thin squad, the Londoners would be wise to recruit a long-term replacement for Dembele in the summer transfer window.
Providing competition for Winks could be crucial to his development and it will improve the squad immensely.