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 every single day.
England may have got knocked out but you had a great tournament personally...
It’s a big tournament and we were very disappointed. We lost in the last game, which I think was probably our best performance as a team. It was a bit disheartening to go out in the last couple of minutes – very disheartening, in fact. You’ve got to learn from every situation in football, whether it be in training or a match, or against different styles of teams and different cultures. You’ve go to learn to take it in your stride and make it of benefit to you.
Is experiencing defeat all part of the learning process, especially at United where it’s not happening too often?
It is really important at United that you’ve been brought up with that winning mentality. It’s bred into you to win everything you take part in. That’s Manchester United for you, a never-say-die attitude as you see time and time again.