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Tottenham's Harry Winks in contention to start against Arsenal - Pochettino

LONDON -- Mauricio Pochettino is prepared to start Harry Winks for the first time in the Premier League in Sunday's North London derby at Arsenal, as the Tottenham manager searches for a solution to his team's slump.

Winks, 20, has previously started just twice for Spurs -- in the EFL Cup matches against Gillingham and Liverpool. But Pochettino is ready to throw him in at the Emirates Stadium if Mousa Dembele is not fit.

Dembele limped off with a twisted ankle in Wednesday's defeat to Bayer Leverkusen and he will be assessed on Saturday, while Toby Alderweireld, Erik Lamela and Ben Davies will miss the match.

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Asked if Winks, who has made five appearances from the bench in the league and Champions League this season, could start, Pochettino said: "Maybe, maybe yes.

"We need to assess Dembele first of all to decide, but he's doing very well, not only against Leverkusen but Liverpool in the cup and before. From the preseason, you remember in Australia he played very well against Atletico Madrid and Juventus. In that moment he started to build his future and I start to see we can trust in him and this is very good news for us."

In 2014-15, Pochettino gave Ryan Mason his Premier League debut from the start in a 1-1 draw at Arsenal, and reminded of the comparison, the manager said: "Maybe we repeat! It's coincidence because there were different reasons but maybe he has the opportunity play.

"It's one of the possibilities but I remember it was the same [with Mason], with Mousa also a doubt before that game. I remember and I decided to play with Mason."

Spurs go into Sunday's derby without a win in the last six matches, since the 2-0 victory over Man City, and they have scored just once from open play in that time.

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Harry Winks
Harry Winks has come off the bench five times in Premier League and Champions League matches this season.

The return of Harry Kane -- who Pochettino rated as "50-50" to start -- will help but the manager suggested that Spurs have struggled to build from the back, which is where deep-lying midfielder Winks could prove an asset.

"We have some problems to create chances or to be clinical in front of goal or to show more consistency," Pochettino said. "Maybe the problem is not in front. Maybe it's because we are not building in a very good way from the back and the ball arrives in the last third in different condition.

"It's a very complex job for us to analyse why. But it's true that we are finding the problem and now it's more difficult to try to fix that."

Asked if his team had become complacent, Pochettino said: "In my opinion there are many things that happen sometimes in football that are too difficult to explain. We were talking before about Dele Alli who has maybe dropped a little bit and is not scoring in the same way that he did last season.

"Maybe in the last month he has been ill, he has had a cold and had problems. Maybe we have some injured players that we can't rotate and maybe some players are tired. That happens sometimes in football. Mixed together, maybe we have dropped our performance."

Last season, Spurs fluffed the chance to finish above their rivals for the first time since the 1994-95 campaign, losing their last two matches when they needed just one point to secure second place behind Leicester.

"I still feel bad about last season. It was so easy to be above Arsenal in that moment. It's true that we felt very disappointed after the Chelsea game. But with two games ahead and only one point to be above, that was very frustrating and disappointing," Pochettino said.

"It was difficult to not think about that situation. But we have another opportunity now and we will see what happens."

Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.

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