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Saturday 18 November 2017

Mauricio Pochettino hails Tottenham's Harry Winks as the 'perfect midfielder'

Harry Winks impressed against Apoel Nicosia on Tuesday
Harry Winks impressed against Apoel Nicosia on Tuesday

Mauricio Pochettino has hailed Harry Winks as the "perfect midfielder" capable of helping Tottenham break down the league's most stubborn defences.

On Saturday, Spurs go up against Huddersfield, who boast the second best defensive record in the division so far, with their three goals conceded worse only than the two let in by Manchester City and Manchester United.

They might have a job stopping Harry Kane, who scored his first Champions League hat-trick against Apoel Nicosia on Tuesday, while also impressive in Cyprus was the 21-year-old Winks.

Winks was making only his second start of the season after recently recovering from an ankle injury but he was sharp, dynamic and creative in possession.

He may even have felt himself unfortunate not to be included Gareth Southgate's England squad announced on Thursday, which was notable for its paucity of quality central midfielders.

"For me, he is the perfect midfielder, who can play box-to-box and like a holding midfielder," Pochetitno said.

"He has the quality and capacity to play and use the demand of the game and read it. He's so clever, and we are so happy that he starts to feel better now because he provides to the team qualities that we don't have.

"He is completely different to our other midfielders like Victor Wanyama, Eric Dier, Mousa Dembele and Mousa Sissoko. He has qualities to add to the team that are completely different."

Dembele and Wanyama are both out, nursing ankle and knee injuries respectively, meaning Winks could prove key in the coming weeks.

He may be rested this weekend as Pochettino eases the youngster back to full fitness but would be a useful option off the bench, should Spurs need some attacking inspiration.

"Can he help us unlock defences? Yes, he is one of the options we have in different games to use," Pochettino said.

"We celebrate that because to have the possibility to have him on the team provides us with more quality and more options to play in a different way."

Dele Alli will return against Huddersfield after missing the Apoel win through suspension. On Friday the midfielder was banned for one international match by FIFA for making an offensive gesture during England's World Cup qualifying match against Slovakia.

Alli has also been fined 5,000 Swiss francs (£3,800) following the incident, although FIFA's disciplinary committee said it accepted the gesture had not been aimed at the referee.

"I hope that nothing happens but if it happens I think he's mature enough to deal with that situation," Pochettino said before the ban was announced.

"He's more mature today. I think you can feel the same that he's more mature, he's not the kid who arrived here three years ago. A lot of things (have) happened in that period."

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