Tottenham's Harry Winks: 'I feel like I'm 100 percent now' following injury
LONDON -- Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks says he is finally pain-free and back to full fitness after coming through Wednesday's 1-0 Carabao Cup win over Barnsley unscathed.
Winks, 21, played 90 minutes in the third-round victory over the Championship strugglers -- his first start since suffering medial ankle ligament damage following a freak fall in the Premier League match at Burnley in April.
The midfielder has been playing through the pain barrier since returning to preseason training early and he pulled out of the England under-21 squad earlier this month to focus on his recovery.
"Obviously I've been struggling a little bit with my ankle so it was a good chance to put everything to bed, get a good 90 minutes. I feel like I'm 100 percent now," Winks said after the match at Wembley. "It was a perfect opportunity to really put everything behind me and just move on, and start the season from now.
"I've been playing with a little bit of a niggle here and there. In the last week-and-a-half or two weeks, it really started to get back to normal and I'm delighted with that. I got pulled out of the England U21 squad just to try and get it right. I got some advice from some specialists and since then it's really started to progress and I'm really happy with that.
"It's difficult when you're playing at 70 percent in training and you know you're really giving it everything you can, but there's a little bit of pain here and there, which is frustrating. But it's football. Luckily enough I can say, touch wood, that everything's OK now and it's really feeling good and I'm feeling confident and strong.
"We've got a lot of games coming up. They come thick and fast so it's a good time for me to really start feeling 100 percent now and start to kick on."
But summer signing Fernando Llorente, who played 67 minutes on his full debut against Barnsley, says he still needs more time to get up to speed after missing preseason with a broken arm.
"It is my first game [start] of the season without preseason and now I have to continue to work a lot," he said. "I need more time. This summer was hard because my arm meant a long stop. I have to work a lot. I don't know how long. With minutes and confidence, I think every match will be better."
Tottenham offered tickets for as little as £5 for their third match in six days at Wembley, but there were just 23,926 at the victory over Barnsley, settled by Dele Alli's 65th-minute goal.
Winks admitted the atmosphere was flat, saying: "It's just the size of the stadium. It's difficult to really get that same atmosphere that you get at White Hart Lane or if you have a full stadium here. But the fans are always excellent and for us they were brilliant in getting us over the line."
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.