Harry Winks has thanked Tottenham boss Antonio Conte for giving him a fair chance, something he feels he did not get under previous managers.
The midfielder rose through the academy ranks at Spurs to subsequently become a star player under Mauricio Pochettino. What’s more, he was a firm feature in England manager Gareth Southgate’s plans.
Since Pochettino’s sacking, though, Winks has not had the same impact at Spurs.
Jose Mourinho made the 26-year-old a regular feature in his first half season in north London. However, from last term onwards he has struggled for game time.
And under Nuno Espirito Santo’s half-season this campaign, Winks only featured in two Premier League matches for just 61 minutes.
Nevertheless, Winks has become a key figure again since former Chelsea boss Conte stepped in. The Italian performed a detailed evaluation of his squad, sending four first-team players out on loan in January.
However, Winks stayed put and the Englishman has thanked Conte for giving him a chance.
“The manager’s come in and given me a chance, given me confidence again,” Winks told The Guardian.
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“Every game I play and every training session, I have that hunger to impress him and do everything I can to improve.
“My career at Tottenham was probably dead and buried but he’s come in and given me an opportunity to prove myself. And for that, every time I get an opportunity, I really want to impress the manager and repay that faith he’s shown in me.”
Winks rephrased his “dead and buried” claim, rather admitting that his opportunities looked “slim”. He therefore admitted that he thought about leaving the club.
But he added: “As I said, the new manager’s come in and given everyone an equal opportunity, which is all I wanted under the last two managers. Now it’s down to me to take that.”
Winks has subsequently started the last six games in all competitions for Tottenham.
Winks settles at perfect time
The midfielder has established himself in Conte’s plans at the perfect time in recent weeks.
The manager had a clear-out of his midfield ranks in the January transfer window, sending Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso out on loan.
Meanwhile, new midfield signing Rodrigo Bentancur is still getting up to speed after making the move from Juventus.
Bentancur has made two substitute appearances for Spurs so far, playing 45 minutes overall.
But Winks has firmly established himself in the midfield alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.