Tottenham's Harry Winks feeling 'strong, sharp, fit' after overcoming ankle surgery
Tottenham's Harry Winks said he has fought a tough mental battle after discovering he will always have pain in his ankle, but he forgot about the injury while facing Liverpool and feels close to his best.
Although Winks underwent surgery in the summer, manager Mauricio Pochettino said the 22-year-old has a "chronic" problem and will always feel some discomfort.
Nonetheless, the midfielder was given his first start since February against Liverpool on Saturday, and completed 73 minutes of the 2-1 defeat with no ill effects.
"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.
"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."
Asked if he now has to tackle differently, Winks said: "No, 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."
Pochettino underlined Winks's potential last week when he compared the youngster to Barcelona greats Xavi and Andres Iniesta.