Ex-England legend insists Harry Winks deserves spot in Russia opening XI

Former England legend Alan Shearer has insisted Tottenham Hotspur rising-star Harry Winks must be included in Gareth Southgate’s opening XI for the World Cup finals in Russia next summer.

The 21-year-old has burst onto the scene rather dramatically this season, taking advantage of Spurs’ injury-ridden middle of the park to become a serious contender week-in-week-out.

The Hemel Hempstead-born midfielder has shocked many with a number of mature and outstanding displays in the early part of his Lilywhites career, with the ball-sprayer racking up 13 first-team appearances under boss Mauricio Pochettino this campaign already.

Winks’ talent was none more evident than in Tottenham’s 1-1 draw with Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium earlier this season, with the young Englishman arguably finishing the 90 minutes a strong contender for man of the match.

Following the White Hart Lane academy graduate’s succession of success on the field, he was also seen by England boss Southgate as someone who could well become a key outlet next summer.

The Spurs future star impressed the Three Lions manager so much that he was handed his full international debut during the Russia-bound side’s 1-0 win over Lithuania in Vilnius last month.

Once again it appeared no stage was too big for Winks, with the 21-year-old putting the majority of senior players to shame with his silky on the ball skills and possession retention.

There was little doubt that following his debut the Tottenham man had left a lasting impression on many, and none more so than former Three Lions talisman Alan Shearer, who stated the midfielder must be in line for a start in England’s opening fixture at the World Cup next June.

“I have chosen a team for the opening game in Russia but the fact it is open for debate tells you we  have options”, Shearer wrote in The Sun.

“Harry Winks in midfield has come to the fore in recent months and deserves his chance.”

However, with a number of other young England talents impressing during their nation’s goalless draw with Germany last week, none more so than on-loan Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek, the Spurs ball-winner will undoubtably have his work cut out to secure a starting XI spot under Southgate.