Heading into England’s last major tournament, Dele Alli was considered a certain starter.
But with just over three weeks to go until Euro 2020 begins, he is barely mentioned in discussions about who should make it into Gareth Southgate’s squad.
Now, after three consecutive starts for Tottenham, is the 25-year-old turning a corner – even if it is too late to gain an international recall this summer?
Since Spurs sacked Jose Mourinho and put Ryan Mason in interim charge less than a month ago, Alli has almost doubled his total of Premier League minutes for the season.
His start in the 2-0 win over Wolves on Sunday – in front of Southgate – was his third in a row. That is the same amount of Premier League starts he made in Mourinho’s final 12 months in charge.
He also had a late runout in their Carabao Cup final defeat by Manchester City.
‘An excellent number 10 performance’
The midfielder has scored 65 goals for Spurs since moving from MK Dons in 2015 – but in January it looked as if his time at the club might be coming to an end, with Mauricio Pochettino’s Paris St-Germain interested.
But Spurs reportedly did not want to let him go if they did not sign another midfielder, so he stayed put – and Mason has been impressed by his recent contribution.
“Dele was my man of the match,” Alli’s former team-mate Mason said after the win over Wolves.
“I can’t speak in terms of what Gareth is thinking. I don’t know on that, but for me Dele was excellent.
“I don’t really like singling out players but it’s hard not to because I’m sure everyone felt it. He ran, he competed, he pressed, he created opportunities.
“I’m sure he’s disappointed not to get a goal himself.
“It was an excellent number 10 performance, I’m really, really pleased.”
‘It’s been tough but I’m still only 25’
While Alli did not have a role in either goal, he had four efforts – hitting the post – while none of his team-mates were involved in more tackles or duels.
His last Premier League goal was before the first Covid lockdown began – a penalty against Burnley in March 2020.
All three strikes this season have come in the Europa League – where he was a regular under Mourinho in a fringe team.
Alli, who won the last of his 37 caps in June 2019, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I am feeling good.
“I have been working hard all season in training but it is hard to replicate that in games.
“There have been a few games where after five minutes you feel a bit tired but you have to keep working hard and keep fighting and that is what I am trying to do for the team.
“It’s been tough but I am still only 25. I feel old but I have still got a long way to go. I will work as hard as I can to get back to where I was and push further than that to be the best player I can possibly be.
“It’s not gone the way I probably would have wanted it to but that’s football – you can’t plan these things.”