Adam Lallana is confident his fitness problems will not cost him a place in England’s World Cup plans after returning for “the business end” of the season.
He has also found himself on the outside looking in during England’s road to Russia, ending a nine-month absence from national duty with a second-half appearance in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw against Italy.
For a player who won England’s player of the year award for 2016 and was arguably the key performer in the early days of Gareth Southgate’s tenure, the landscape has changed considerably.
But the 29-year-old is bullish about his prospects of making the 23-man squad, insisting he has sufficient credit in the bank.
Asked if he was worried his lack of game time might prove costly, Lallana said: “Not really, I’m confident enough in my own ability and what I bring to the squad.
“Me and the boss have a great relationship and have been speaking frequently this season. He’s been interested to know where I was on rehab and I’ve been down to St George’s Park a couple of times.
“He recognises what I bring to the team, my team-mates recognise that and I recognise it also.
“But I’m smart enough not to be complacent and to know there’s plenty of talented players that want to make the squad. I’m not built with complacency, you can see that in the way I play.”
Lallana believes he is now entirely injury free, but is still lacking the necessary match sharpness and admits a light training schedule at the start of international week effectively ruled him out of contention for last week’s victory over Holland.
All he needs to do now is find an opening in Jurgen Klopp’s first XI.
“It’s been a difficult challenge for me this year and I’ve had a long lay-off but I’m back at the business end of the season,” he said.
“I’ve got to look at the positives: we’ve got a World Cup coming up, some really important games in the league and Champions League.
“If you’re going to be back fit for one part of the season it’s the back end, the business part. Injuries happen but I feel physically and mentally as fresh as anyone. I’m raring to go.”