Dele Alli believes he “improved” during the 2018-19 campaign despite seeing fitness struggles impact his playing time and end product.
That figure dipped to nine last term, while providing 11 assists, and to five goals and three assists in the season just gone.
At 23 years of age there is still plenty of time in which to get back on an upward curve, but Alli has been in decline.
He concedes that the going has been tough at times, with hamstring and thigh problems doing him few favours, but is still trying to take as many positives as possible from his overall game.
“It’s been a great season for learning for me,” Alli told reporters.
“It’s been the first when I’ve had muscle injuries, so that was difficult, but I’ve kept working hard.
“I haven’t scored as many goals or got as many assists but other parts of my game, defensively, in possession, not just getting on the end of things and finishing chances, I think I’ve improved on that. So next season, hopefully, it will all come together and I’ll get the goals, assists and keep the other parts of my game in the build-up play.”
Alli will need to rediscover his spark if he is to remain integral to the plans of Mauricio Pochettino and Gareth Southgate with club and country, especially in a European Championship year.
“Nobody can get too comfortable,” he said on the challenges he faces in order to add to his 37 England caps.
“We’ve got Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] and Cal [Hudson-Odoi] who have had some bad injuries but I’m sure they will come back stronger. They are great players. The squad, the starting 11 isn’t secure, everyone wants to keep working hard and that’s important to keep pushing on as a team.
“Every game you play you want to get into the starting 11 and into the team, but you know if you take your foot off the gas there’s players, even in the U21s who are doing well at the clubs, who are ready so you have to keep working hard.”
Alli’s last outing of 2018-19 came in a Nations League third-place play-off clash with Switzerland, in which he wore a protective cast on his hand.
Quizzed on that injury, he said: “[Fabian] Delph’s head broke my hand.
“They said I could have had an operation when it first happened, but I would have had to miss a few weeks. It’s not fully healed yet, but this was the last game they said I’d need the cast. I won’t need the op, it’s healing well.”
He went on to say of his plans from this point: “I have a schedule from the club and it’s important I keep ticking over.
“I’ll put my feet up for a week or so, then back to work and make sure I’m ready for pre-season.”