Alex Denny has declared his “fight and desire” to win a place in Everton’s double-winning Under-23s team and regain his England youth international spot.
The talented midfielder saw his efforts frustrated by a foot injury last season, which he suffered on the eve of the young Blues’ opening-day Premier League 2 clash at Chelsea.
The injury kept Denny out until the new year and – as David Unsworth's team stormed to league and cup glory – the 19-year-old was restricted to a series of substitute appearances as he continued his battle back to optimum fitness.
Denny, who featured for England in their U17 European Championship final against Spain two years ago and has also been capped by his country at Under-18 level, is currently in La Manga as Everton Under-23s undergo a rigorous pre-season training camp.
The youngster says he is eager to showcase his quality and secure a starting berth in manager Unsworth’s gifted side.
“Last season was tough to get through, it was my first proper injury, but I want to come back stronger and make sure it’s a good year for me,” Denny told evertontv.
“As a player, I like to get on the ball, pass it, but also I like a tackle, and helping to drive the team on.
“It will be competitive [the battle for a place in the starting XI] but as long as I can show that fight and desire, then I’m sure I can get a spot.
“After I got injured last year, it was tough dropping out of the England squad, too. But now I want to kick on and break back into that team.”
Denny, who joined Everton aged nine, has captained the Club at Under-18 level.
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UNDER-23S IN LA MANGA: SKILLS, SAVES, SWEAT AND ICE BATHS
He also has a first-team appearance to his name, making his debut for the Blues in the 3-0 Europa League victory over Apollon Limassol in December 2017.
While still in the embryonic phase of his professional career – Denny turned 19 in April – the midfielder says he is eager to take responsibility and set an example to the young players who have stepped up to Unsworth’s squad from the Blues' Under-18s.
Denny revealed he has been encouraged by how the players have integrated during their short time in La Manga.
“It’s been very positive,” he added. “Training has been tough, of course, we have to get the work in and get the fitness levels up
“Unsy gets us fit for the season – that’s why we’ve done so well the past few years.
"It’s a very young group of lads. I know a few of them [the new players] from when I played in the Under-18s and they’ve all taken to it really well.
“This is my second proper season at this level. I want to step up and be a senior player, and help bring the Under-18 lads in.”