How frustrating was it to get injured against Arsenal?
I was devastated to pull up like that, after getting a few starts under my belt in Premier League games and feeling really good. I got the scan done and, from then on, we knew what the problem was. I couldn’t sit back and moan. I had to get into training every single day and just follow the programme the physios put down for me. You’ve just got to make sure you come back as flying as you were before you got injured.
You look a more powerful player since returning from Sunderland. Have you been consciously working hard at the gym?
I think it’s just that I’ve literally grown into a man now. I’ve turned into a man and filled out naturally. I have been doing a bit of gym work but it’s more based around my legs, not so much my upper body. It’s all coming together. My physique is getting a lot better than before I went away. I need to be strong because some of the centre-backs are 90 kilograms and I’m only 70-something kilograms. I don’t have to be massive but I do need to be able to handle myself and I feel I’m doing that.
Did playing in the Under-21 European finals in the summer actually help you and the other lads in terms of fitness?
We got three weeks off on holiday, not as long as a few of the other boys. I’m still young and am always ready to push on and just keep improving as a player so to get straight back into pre-season was good for us. Maybe we were a bit fitter than some of the others in that three-week period but they still had another 10 days on us before we got back. We just had to make the time up and get back into the routine of training