Belfast Telegraph

Mauricio Pochettino: Harry Winks a doubt for England duty with ankle injury

Mauricio Pochettino has revealed Harry Winks is a doubt for England's friendlies with Germany and Brazil after twisting his ankle in Tottenham's 1-0 defeat of Crystal Palace.

The in-form midfielder was replaced by Mousa Dembele at half-time at Wembley having gone down holding his ankle before then.

His absence would further limit Gareth Southgate's options after injury forced Dele Alli to withdraw from his latest squad and, after Son Heung-min's goal secured his team's victory, Pochettino said: "He twisted his ankle. It's a little bit painful.

"We must assess him with our medical staff and with the national team medical staff too. He's so excited to play for the national team. I don't know (if he can play). It's about him and both (teams of) medical staff.

"Dele Alli against Manchester United finished the game feeling his posterior tendon, close to the hamstring, and then played 90 minutes against Real Madrid.

"It's a very, very, very small thing. It was a massive risk (to play him) again. We're sure he'll be ready for Arsenal (after the international break). We hope he's going well in the next few weeks and will be available.

"We wanted after 75 minutes to protect (the substituted Harry) Kane. He's okay, he's going with the national team.

"The Christmas period is so tough for the players. You cannot do too much; only have good communication and a good relationship with the national team and explain the situation with everyone and trust they will manage them in a good way.

"We knew it would be a massive challenge for us to be ready again and fresh after (Wednesday's 3-1 defeat of Real Madrid). But I am very pleased. The result was fantastic even if it wasn't our best performance."

Palace showed further signs of improvement under their new manager Roy Hodgson, and to the extent that had Wilfried Zaha given them the lead from a fine second-half chance at 0-0, they would likely have secured all three points.

On his first return to Wembley in a competitive capacity since his resignation from the England job, Hodgson insisted his team's performance provided little consolation and acknowledged their lack of a recognised striker again undermined them.

"We need points and I'd have settled for playing much worse and having a bit of good fortune, such as a ball deflecting past a goalkeeper or the referee awarding a penalty which isn't," the 70-year-old said.

"When we look at the table we're still on four points and we're getting further away from the teams that are just outside of the relegation zone, and our task gets harder with every defeat.

"It would be nice by the end of the season to have one person who is a centre-forward and goalscorer. They have Kane, Son and (Fernando) Llorente, and all we have if we want to change something is Bakary Sako, a left winger trying his best as a centre-forward."

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