Harry Winks has admitted he has no idea how he has gone from Tottenham and England regular to underwhelming for Spurs’ second string in the Europa Conference League, as the midfielder laid bare his frustration at his lack of regular football.
Winks revealed he wanted to speak to Nuno Espirito Santo about his situation and suggested the manager's decision to leave his first XI at home for Thursday night's defeat to Vitesse Arnhem had impacted morale.
He insisted he only had himself to blame for his form but said he needed regular football to return to his best.
Once a great hope for Gareth Southgate's England side, the 25-year-old has not appeared for his country since November 2020, and has played just an hour in the Premier League this season.
Asked if he could make sense of his dramatic fall, Winks said: "No. No, I can’t. But listen, the circumstances are that I’m in this situation.
"Of course [my confidence is low]. When players are not playing well and you only have yourself to blame, it’s difficult. I want to be at my best, firing and playing really well. It comes with games. But ultimately it comes with me performing on the pitch when I get the opportunity.
"If I’m not doing that, then I only have myself to blame. I’m man enough to admit that I need to improve in certain areas. On the contrary, I need to play games and the only way to [improve] is getting minutes and getting that sharpness back.
"I love Tottenham, I’ve always made that clear, but I want to play football," he added. "And I want to play regular football. The only way to play your best football, get momentum is playing regularly.
"I’m giving my all for the club, of course I am. They stuck by me, I stuck by them – and I want to play for Tottenham.
"But it is difficult when you get matches here and there, confidence is low and you don’t get that run of games."
Winks said he was not thinking about the January transfer window but admitted he wants a discussion with Nuno "when the time is right".
"I’m not thinking that far ahead [to January]," he said. "I’ve got a lot of games to try and fight for the club. There’s still two months to go and it’s about knuckling down, working as hard as I can and having no regrets.
"When the time is right I’ll have a conversation [with the manager] but right now it’s important that the team and manager are focussed on the next game and don't get any distractions from me."
Nuno left his starting XI from the win over Newcastle in London to prepare for Sunday's game against West Ham and Winks appeared to question the decision, while reiterating the team was not good enough here in Arnhem.
"It is tough," he said. "We’re meant to be a team. It’s meant to be competition. It’s meant to be competitive. Everybody should be fighting for weekend games and it’s difficult. Motivation should be everybody fighting for the same cause and the same thing.
"But when we go out on that pitch and we’re not playing in the [first] team, we’ve got to put that right, make a point and show the manager we should be playing in the team. And when we lose in the way that we did, we don’t do that. It’s down to us but there’s a lot of factors behind that.
"We’re Tottenham and whoever goes out on the pitch, we should be winning these kind of games. There’s no excuses.
"We didn’t play well enough. They outfought us, they outplayed us. They played a better way, with more creativity. In my opinion, they completely dominated us. It’s not good enough. It’s not good enough for Tottenham. We’ve got to come to these places and dominate and win."
Thursday’s defeat, which was sealed by Maximilian Wittek's volley, continued a pattern of underperformance from Spurs's fringe players.
Last season, Jose Mourinho's second string were humiliated by Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League last 16, while Nuno's side have already lost to Pacos de Ferreira and drawn with Rennes.
"There’s a few different reasons as to why," Winks said. "First of all, as players we hold our hands up. We weren’t good enough.
"We’re the ones on the pitch, we’re the ones that have to go out there and play. There’s no excuses. But it’s difficult when you don’t play regularly. It’s difficult to come into these games when teams have fans behind them, they’re up for it.
“When you play one game every few weeks, it’s difficult to match that energy, that tempo and their confidence. There’s a lot of different reasons why we weren’t good enough this year and last year in these competitions. Ultimately as players we’re not performing well enough and we should be.
"We want to win for Tottenham, to win games and pull in the same direction. When you’re not playing regularly, it’s difficult. Difficult to get that confidence as a team. But it’s important everybody knows we are fighting to play for Tottenham. The motivation is to get into the team and perform regularly but like I keep saying if we don’t perform when we get chances, it’s down to us."