Tottenham defender Kyle Walker-Peters confident he can build on last year
Last season was a mixed one for Tottenham's young full-back Kyle Walker-Peters, with chances taken at the beginning and end but lengthy periods of inactivity in between.
Having won the Under-20 World Cup with England last summer, the 21-year-old made his Premier League debut against Newcastle on the opening day of the campaign and was named man of the match.
But Spurs promptly signed Serge Aurier and Walker-Peters only started four further matches after that. Three of those came in the League Cup and FA Cup, and in one of them he was substituted at half-time against Newport County.
A largely frustrating season ended on a high note though. Having started the first league match of the season, the academy graduate also started the last one -- and he set up two goals in a 5-4 win over Leicester.
The potential is there, but what about playing opportunities?
While he is right-footed and prefers that side, Walker-Peters can play as a left-back or right-back. Indeed he played on both flanks during Spurs' recent tour of the U.S., starting all three matches against Roma, Barcelona and AC Milan.
Nonetheless, he remains the third-choice player at both positions, with Kieran Trippier, Aurier, Danny Rose and Ben Davies ahead of him.
A loan move may now make sense. Cameron Carter-Vickers explained in the U.S. how he benefited from his time with Sheffield United and Ipswich Town last season, while Walker-Peters has also spoken to Josh Onomah about his time with Aston Villa.
"He said positive things," Walker-Peters said. "It's obviously different for him from being here. Like myself, he grew up in the academy so going away to another team helps you to grow up as a man as well as on the football pitch, because you're playing with new players, a new manager and playing style."
Walker-Peters could benefit from that. On the other hand, Mauricio Pochettino has publicly stressed the value of youngsters training with senior internationals, and Walker-Peters believes there is something to be said for that approach too, even if he is not playing as much as he would like.
"I think it's worked for me," he said. "Before the last game of the season I hadn't played for a few months. There must be a reason why I was able to go into that game, full fitness, and I did quite well. So I think the training is helping.
"If the manager wants me to go on loan then I'll do that and work hard there. But my main focus and priority is, while I'm here, trying to get into the Tottenham first team."
Whatever happens, Walker-Peters feels he has grown in confidence, to the extent that he now feels comfortable barking instructions at senior teammates.
"I think it's the same for most young players," he said. "When you first get promoted to the first team you're looking at these players thinking 'that's [Christian] Eriksen, that's [Harry] Kane!'.
"But I think I've got to a stage now where I'm comfortable enough and have played with them enough times that, if I feel I need to shout at someone, then I will. They're adults and they're not going to take it personally.
"That confidence has definitely come in the last year, just from training with them, being with them every day."
Walker-Peters remains grounded and modest though.
"I'm still young, I'm still learning from the likes of Serge, Trippier, Ben, Danny," he said. "There's still a long way to go. I don't want to get too overhyped over those performances in the league, although they were nice.
"Of course it gives you confidence, but I still think there's a lot of room for improvement, even from those games. Even though everyone says I did so well, I look at them and I see things I need to improve on.
"What things in particular? There's a lot, let's put it that way. There's a lot. But it's all positive.
"From the first game of the season I was hungry for more, but I always had in my head 'stay patient.' Every day in training I just made sure that, if the gaffer did need to use me, I was ready."
And Walker-Peters admitted he knows it's harder to break in at a top team like Tottenham, but said there could be no better manager to play under than Pochettino, who has a track record of giving young players a shot.
He said: "If he feels they're ready, he'll play them, like he did with myself and Harry Winks.
"I think, more than looking at it for us, it's about looking at it for other young players coming up. It's good for the club if the academy boys see that, if you work hard and take your opportunities, there is a pathway to the first team."