Southampton captain Adam Lallana is closing in on a return to first-team action after a six-week lay-off.
The 24-year-old midfielder suffered a knee injury in the win over relegation rivals Reading at the start of December, ruling him out of the club's crucial festive period.
But despite his absence, the Saints have gone on a decent run of form, losing just two games in 13 matches. And with Lallana now back in full training, the former England U21 international is keen to help Mauricio Pochettino's side continue their resurgent form.
Speaking from Southampton's warm-weather training camp in Barcelona, Lallana said: "Getting injured was obviously frustrating. I feared the worst when it first happened, so I was lucky that I've only been out for weeks rather than months," he said.
"I've just been professional about it – got stronger and worked harder so I hopefully come back a fitter and better player."
A lot has changed at the club during Lallana's injury lay-off, and the mid-season training camp represents a good opportunity for the Saints squad to get to know their new boss.
"With this being my first session back, it was nice to be with the lads again and trying to impress the new manager.
"I felt a little bit rusty but it's my first day back after being out for six-or-seven weeks.
"It'll take me a few training sessions but hopefully I haven't lost too much fitness because I've been doing quite a lot of running."
With the season drawing to a close, Lallana will be hoping he can help the Saints preserve their Premier League status, with the club sitting four points clear of the drop zone with 23 games played.
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