Harry Winks has said the season starts now for him after the Tottenham midfielder made his first start in five months against Barnsley on Tuesday.
Winks played 90 minutes in the 1-0 win at Wembley as Dele Alli’s second-half strike fired Spurs into the Carabao Cup fourth round.
A nasty ankle injury sustained in April had curtailed a breakthrough season for Winks, who made 21 Premier League appearances last term, as well as four in the Champions League.
With Victor Wanyama nursing a knee injury and Mousa Dembele managing a long-standing foot problem, the 21-year-old’s return could not come soon enough for Tottenham.
“I feel like I’m 100 per cent now,” Winks said.
“It was a perfect opportunity (against Barnsley) to go out there and really put everything behind me and just move on, and start the season from now.
“It’s difficult when you’re playing at 70 per cent in training and you know you’re really giving it everything you can but there’s a little bit of pain here and there, which is frustrating. But it’s football.
“Luckily enough I can say, touch wood, that everything’s ok now and it’s really feeling good and I’m feeling confident and strong.”
Mauricio Pochettino’s side turn their attention back to the Premier League, where they take on London rivals West Ham on Saturday at the London Stadium.
West Ham have delighted in denting Tottenham’s last two title challenges with successive 1-0 victories in this fixture and there is little love lost between the clubs.
“Of course, it’s something to put right,” Winks said.
While Winks gave Tottenham energy and dynamism on Tuesday, Fernando Llorente looked to be further back in his pursuit of full fitness after the striker’s struggles with an arm injury this summer.
Llorente missed pre-season, having joined Spurs on the last day of the transfer window, and he was rusty against Barnsley, nodding a free header over the bar in the first half.
“It is my first game of the season without pre-season and now I have to continue to work a lot,” Llorente said.
“I need more time. This summer was hard because my arm meant a long stop. I have to work a lot.”
Barnsley sit 20th in the Championship but played above their position and must now try to replicate that form in the league, starting against high-flying Wolves on Saturday.
“We held our own with one of the best,” goalkeeper Adam Davies said.
“That’s got to give us confidence for Saturday. We’ll take it into the league and hopefully we can get a run going and kick on.”