Everton's Jarred Branthwaite acknowledged he's developed and learnt a lot during the campaign so far but vowed there's "much more" to come.
The gifted 21-year-old, who was rewarded with a new four-year contract last month, joined the Blues from Carlisle United in January 2020. Following successful loan spells at Blackburn Rovers and PSV Eindhoven, he returned to Everton in the summer and has become a mainstay in the heart of Sean Dyche's defence this season.
Branthwaite has started each of the Blues' past 11 matches and is excelling in many defensive metrics. That includes boasting the best Premier League success rate against opposition dribblers across the Everton squad this season (76.5 per cent).
Despite the current fine form on display from the young defender, Branthwaite believes there is further scope for development as he continues to get more top-level games under his belt.
"You improve by playing games," explained the centre-back. "The more games you play, the more real match experience you get.
"Since I came into the side earlier this season, James Tarkowski has been a great influence and I have learned a lot from him. I obviously train every day with great players but when you’re in that match situation it’s very different. Learning on the job is always the best way to develop because you need to be instinctive, but also believe in what you know and what the manager tells you.
"I believe there’s much more to come but we’re all taking it one game at a time."
Domestic action is on pause as the latest international break gets into full swing. It's set to be a poignant break for Branthwaite who has been called up to Lee Carsley's England Under-21s side.
The Young Lions are returning to Euro qualifying action and are set to take on Serbia on Saturday 18 November (4pm kick-off GMT) before welcoming Northern Ireland to Goodison Park on Tuesday 21 November (7.45pm kick-off).
Purchase your tickets for next week's clash at Goodison Park between England Under-21s and Northern Ireland by clicking here.
Branthwaite admitted it'll be an exciting experience for him to run out at Goodison Park donning national team colours and hopes he and his teammates will be greeted with a great atmosphere similar to what he enjoys with Everton.
"It is going to be a really good experience," he said. "I know what the atmosphere is like at Goodison, so to play there for England as well will be a great experience for me - and I think for the other players as well it will be great for them to experience the stadium so I am really looking forward to it.
"I have played at Goodison many times now this season and the fans have helped me settle in from the get-go, so it definitely gives me confidence to play for England in front of them and to have that familiar feeling of the pitch, the stands and everything that comes with Goodison.
"It will definitely help me to perform and hopefully it can help us win the game."
England Under-21s have played three games in Group F so far, winning two emphatically against Luxembourg (3-0) and then Serbia (9-1). They fell to a slender 3-2 defeat last time out, though, against Ukraine.
Branthwaite said the group have reflected on that loss and feels valuable lessons have been learnt which will put them in good stead for the remainder of qualifying.
"Every game at international level is tough but we have definitely got the quality in the group to win every game," he explained. "The away game at Ukraine last time out was a difficult test for us. It is something we have looked back on and we will learn from that experience which will help us going into this one.
"We need to learn but I do have the confidence in this group that we will do that and we will go on a good run and qualify for the tournament. But we obviously need to take it game by game and make sure we show our quality each time."
Purchase your tickets for next week's clash at Goodison Park between England Under-21s and Northern Ireland (Tuesday 21 November, kick-off 7.45pm) by clicking here.