England's Harry Winks reflects on a seamless transition from the U21s to senior squad

Tuesday 03 Oct 2017
Harry Winks was with Aidy Boothroyd's U21s squad before his senior call came on Monday evening

As introductions to the England set-up go, there can’t be many smoother than the one experienced by Harry Winks.

The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder was drafted into Gareth Southgate’s squad on Monday evening, having originally been named in the U21s group.

Winks’s elevation was a literal one, vacating the hotel room he was sharing with Ben Chilwell and ascending one flight of stairs onto the floor occupied by the senior squad.

England v Slovenia
  • FIFA World Cup qualifier
  • 7.45pm, Thursday 5 October
  • Wembley Stadium connected by EE
  • Tickets: 0844 826 2010
  • Live on ITV

The two squads operate in close proximity at St. George’s Park, which opened five years ago this month, meaning the 21-year-old’s promotion was seamless.

That’s not to say the moment didn’t catch Winks by surprise. After only recently returning from an injury that ruled him out of this summer’s European Under-21 Championships, the seniors were miles from his mind.

“I'm still trying to get my head around it, to be honest,” he tells TheFA.com, 24-or-so hours on from his call-up.

“It's still a little bit surreal to have come here as an U21 and then get the call into the manager's room to say I've been promoted into the senior squad.

“I'm guessing it all happened really quickly with the two boys that pulled out through injury [Fabian Delph and Phil Jones], so the fact that all of the boys are here – the U21s and the seniors – makes it so easy to dip in and out if you're needed.

“[A call-up] didn't cross my mind at all. I've only recently come back from injury and got into the team, so it's all happened very quickly but it's the stuff of dreams, really.

“It's an absolute dream come true to even be here, at any level. To represent your country is massive, and to even be a part of the group at senior level – whether it's just for this trip or for however long.

“Hopefully there'll be many more, but this is a great achievement and I'm really proud.”

Winks has picked up two caps for the U21s over the last year

Winks stepped into a squad full of familiar faces. Five of them are club-mates, past and present, while he’s shared dressing rooms with others – the likes of Jordan Pickford – on Young Lions duty.

With the squad travelling down from Burton-on-Trent to London this evening, Wednesday will be spent at his club’s training ground in Enfield before Thursday’s World Cup qualifier at Wembley Stadium – Spurs’ home for the 2017-18 season.

“That makes the whole transition even easier,” admits Winks.

“Having people like Dele, H, Eric, Tripps and Kyle Walker who I've known for a while makes it easier stepping in, but all of the boys have been great – they're all very welcoming and down-to-earth.

“Going back to Tottenham and seeing some familiar faces is going to be nice, too. It's an amazing place to train, and going there in an England shirt is going to be even better.

“I'm just here to enjoy every bit of the experience and soak it up as much as I can. If I get to play it'd obviously be a dream come true, but just being here is fantastic.”

Tickets for Thursday's game are on sale, priced from £20 for adults and £10 for concessions. Click here for more details or to purchase.

By Jim Lucas at St. George's Park