NASHVILLE -- Tottenham's Harry Winks says he would love to play for England this season after coming through the most difficult period of his career so far.
Winks made 11 starts in all competitions last season, including two in the Champions League, but his breakthrough campaign was cut short in April when he suffered ankle ligament damage in an unfortunate fall against Burnley.
The 21-year-old has been capped for England at Under-21 level and he was considered for a senior call-up by Gareth Southgate before the injury, despite suggestions he is also eligible for Spain.
The fit-again midfielder has ruled out switching allegiance, though, and says he is ready to kick-on for club and country this season after scoring in Spurs' 3-2 friendly defeat to Roma on Tuesday.
"I've got Spanish grandparents and I've got a connection with Spain. But I consider myself English and I want to play for England. That's what I've said all along," Winks said in Nashville.
"Obviously I have goals and ambitions that I'd love to achieve this year. Of course I'd love to play for England this year, but that's not something I'm saying I'm going to set myself to do. I'm just going to take it step by step in getting into the team.
"The most important thing is to take it game by game. I've always done that my whole career. Game by game, step by step, and not looking too far into the future.
"The injury was probably the most difficult time of my career so far because there were a lot of games coming up like the FA Cup semifinal and the North London derby and I was starting to get involved," added the Hemel Hempstead-born player, who admits he is still not pain-free.
"It was tough. It takes a lot of strength to bounce back from something like that and work hard during it but obviously when you have good coaching and medical staff around you it seems to be a little bit easier.
"I am back fit and playing it makes you have that little more determination when you are back out on the field. I've been out for four months and when you have been out that long you start to miss the game and when you are out there you realise just how much you really do live it and enjoy it.
"I still get a lot of pain and a few symptoms and stiffness in the ankle which is normal -- it's part of an ankle injury. I just have to play through it and hopefully in the next few months and hopefully it will disappear slowly.
"I don't think there is a time period on the pain. It goes as and when it does on its own. I think some players have had ankle injuries for years and they still felt it for a long time. Other times it can go in months it just depends.
"A lot of the lads who have had ankle injuries like Harry [Kane] and Jan Vertonghen have given me advice and their experiences they have drawn and it just gives you more of a clear mind on what to expect."
Although Winks has ruled out playing for Spain, his style of play has reportedly prompted Pochettino, a former manager of Barcelona club Espanyol, to call him "little Iniesta" -- after the Spain and Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta.
"I haven't been told that, but I'd love him to. It's not a bad title to have," Winks said. "I can only go off what I am like as a player. I would say I am myself -- I can't really compare myself to anyone else.
"Players like Iniesta are top, top players and I'm not at that level just yet but I like to draw different types of models and games from different players and Iniesta is certainly the type of player I could look up and I would like to draw parts of his game out into mine."
Speaking at a coaching clinic for young players at Tennessee Soccer Club in Nashville, where Spurs play Manchester City on Saturday, Winks said playing under Pochettino was any young player's dream.
"It's what you dream of as a young academy player in England because opportunities are difficult and that's well-documented. The manager has proved since coming here that if you work hard, show the right commitment and right mentality he will give you an opportunity. And as long as you repay that faith to him then it will still come.
"If you'd asked me that at the beginning of last season, I wouldn't have expected a run in the team but, after I got my opportunity, the manager started to show more faith in me and give me more opportunities then I would probably have said yes.
"But in preseason wouldn't have expected as many games," added Winks, who is expected to start against City after substitute roles against Paris Saint-Germain and AS Roma this week.