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From ‘extra’ to England squad member in two years - Winks on ‘surreal’ Three Lions chance

Posted on 4 October 2017  - 17:48

In November, 2015, Harry Winks was drafted in as a spare body to make up the numbers in England’s training session at Hotspur Way.

Harry Winks trains with England at Hotspur Way todayHarry in the groupHarry and Kieran TrippierHarry Kane and Eric DierDele Alli with Everton's Michael KeaneKieran and Harry WinksDele and Harry KaneHarry WinksHarry Kane speaks at a press conference after training

Today, less than two years later, he trained with them at our Enfield base again, for real this time, as an active member of the squad in advance of two decisive World Cup qualifiers against Slovenia and Lithuania.

No wonder our home-grown midfielder couldn’t keep the smile off his face when we caught up with him this afternoon, shortly after the Three Lions’ session!

“It’s brilliant, a dream come true to actually train with the boys as part of the squad,” said the 21-year-old midfielder, who impressed from the start against APOEL and Huddersfield Town last week before linking up initially with England Under-21s at St George’s Park, then being promoted to the senior squad on Monday night following the withdrawal of Fabian Delph and Phil Jones.

 


“It is still a bit surreal now. I met with the Under-21s on Sunday night, I trained with them Monday morning and then I found out shortly afterwards that I was with the seniors. It all happened so quickly, so sharply, and I’m still trying to get my head around it! I was obviously gobsmacked, over the moon. I got on the phone, called my mum and dad, told them the news and they couldn’t believe it either.

“We’ve got a big game now on Thursday against Slovenia (at Wembley) which we have to win to secure qualification (for next summer’s World Cup). I’ve only been around the boys for the last day or two but the mood in the camp seems positive, all the boys know what their jobs are and they’re ready to do it.

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“It would be absolutely amazing if I were to make an appearance but obviously just being around the squad and even being called up in the first place is a huge honour and I’m more than proud to even say that. I’m just trying to get as much experience as possible around the boys, around the coaches and just trying to relish every single part of the opportunity.”

Back when Harry was plucked from our Academy to join in with England training in 2015 (pictured, below), he told us: “For me, the chance to train with top quality, world-class players who are legends of the Premier League and Champions League can only inspire me to get to where they are. I’d love to follow in their footsteps one day.”

This week he’s moving closer to fulfilling that dream.

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“It’s a strange transition, going from stepping in as one player in one training session to actually being selected – it’s a completely different step up and I’m loving it,” he said. “Whenever I get to be selected for England, whether it’s for the Under-16s or all the way up to the seniors, it’s obviously a real honour and it’s no different today.”

Of course, four of Harry’s current team-mates in Harry Kane – who manager Gareth Southgate this afternoon confirmed will captain the side against Slovenia – Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Kieran Trippier are also in the squad for tomorrow night’s match, followed by a trip to Lithuania in the final qualifier on Sunday.

“That makes it so much easier, having boys that you train with every day,” added ‘Winksy’. “All the lads have been great, they’ve been warm and welcomed me in nicely. It’s obviously a bit scary and nerve-wracking when you move into that senior set-up but when you have boys like that who can just help you slot in fairly easily, it makes you feel at home.”

Take a look through the gallery at the top of the page to see Harry and the rest of our players in training with England at Hotspur Way today.