Kyle McAllister believes he has returned to Derby County for pre-season mentally tougher and in better physical shape than he has ever been before.
The 19-year-old midfielder is brimming with positivity and it will take more than a reoccurring groin injury to derail his determination to prove himself.
Although his time in a Derby shirt has been limited to a few pre-season outings last year and a single appearance in the Premier League Cup earlier this year, McAllister has embraced the past 18 months as a steep learning curve.
“I have become a lot stronger mentally, it has been really tough but playing football is my job at the end of the day and I’ve not been able to do that,” McAllister said.
“I came here to impress and it’s 18 months later and I still haven’t played two games in a row. I’ve learned a lot and I will be able to go through this season a lot better knowing that I am mentally tougher.”
Patience is something McAllister has been forced to become well acquainted with, but something that has been a struggle to come to terms with.
In March, the Scotland youth international finally got his competitive Rams Under-23s debut in the Premier League Cup against Sheffield United. With the game being sent into extra time, his 15 minutes of planned playing time turned into 45.
At the time, McAllister said he was loving every extra minute but admitted the next morning he realised it was too much too soon as he was forced back to the sidelines for the rest of the season. Patience, he has learned, cannot be taken for granted.
“I’ve not felt fully fit… ever, to be honest. I’ve struggled all the way through since I was younger with injures and I think this is the time I will feel perfect when I come back,” he said.
“With the pre-season games I will start off slowly, but hopefully I will get a full game in before the start of the season.
“If we can’t I just need to keep building up and by the time I get to a full game I will be as fit as I can be.
“I feel a lot better now than I felt back when I was playing first-team football in Scotland and all of last year. Hopefully I’ll be at 100 percent soon.”
The former St. Mirren man won’t waste time in seizing any opportunity to impress the new manager, Frank Lampard.
He added: “I need to impress because he has decisions to make. If I don’t impress now then it may turn on me.
“When I come out and play my 30 minutes I will try my hardest and hopefully I can impress him still even if I’m not fully fit, so when I am then he might pick me.”