Harry Winks passes England audition and enters World Cup debate after debut against Lithuania

The Gaza Post | The News of Palestine – London

The Tottenham Hotspur contingent within the England side grew by one as Harry Winks made his Three Lions debut in Sunday’s [8 October] narrow win over Lithuania.

And having offered a glimpse of something in midfield that has been lacking throughout a successful if rather lifeless qualifying campaign, this shouldn’t be regarded as a fleeting appearance for his country. Rather, the start of a much needed change.

With England’s qualification for Russia next summer already secured, a trip to the side ranked 120th in the world on a Sunday evening always had the feeling of being a tiresome, dull affair, with a 1-0 win courtesy of a first-half penalty from Harry Kane fulfilling that particular prophecy.

The only real intrigue of the evening; how a new deployed three-man defence would work and how Winks would take to international football.

After being parachuted into the senior team last week, Winks became the15th of the last 30 England debutants to be coached by Mauricio Pochettino, slotting in alongside Jordan Henderson as Gareth Southgate experimented with a new formation.

Pochettino has been effusive in his praise for the 21-year-old, hailing him as a “perfect midfielder.” While many are inclined to take the Argentine’s word when it comes to developing young talent, many were miffed by his inclusion in the national team given he has started just three games in all competitions for Tottenham this season.

Tom Davies and Jonjo Shelvey were among the names thrown forward by those exasperated by the youngster’s inclusion. By the end of the evening, Winks had justified his manager’s decision.

Winks embraces a trait that England midfielders seem to relinquish the moment they pull on the jersey; the poise and ability to constantly move the ball forward. His ability to drive forward from central midfield was also evident earlier on, racing into space to tee up Marcus Rashford in the first-half only for the Manchester United forward to fail to capitalise.

Quick in transition and sharp in the opposition’s half, there were plenty of signs that his presence offers more than the double pivot of Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier. His ability to turn on a sixpence and clever footwork that have him so highly rated among the Spurs masses almost saw him score on his debut eight minutes into the second-half after jinking past two challenges, only to be denied by Lithuania’s Ernestas Šetkus.

If tonight was a World Cup audition, Winks has certainly won a call-back at the very least.

The fact that all it takes is a good 90 minutes against Lithuania to enter the World Cup squad debate reflects woefully on the current state of the England team. But that is hardly Winks’ fault. Greater tests against Germany and Brazil in November friendlies will provide a greater barometer of where he is, but he will also surely have similarly challenging opportunities at club level this season. Pochettino’s unmistakable admiration of the youngster is surely a positive indicator of his plans for him.

It will be how often he starts for Tottenham that could decide Winks’ World Cup fate. After all, Jack Wilshere, perhaps his most direct competition for a spot in the squad, is being held similarly accountable for Arsenal. But with injuries beginning to creep into Moussa Dembele’s game and four trophies to fight four this season, surely they will come.

Source : ibtimes

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