Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli insists he will never apologise for his aggressive streak but says he has calmed down this season.
Alli scored his fourth goal in as many games on Sunday as his first-half penalty helped Spurs seal a 2-1 win over Southampton.
Another excellent campaign has established Alli among Europe’s brightest young talents but doubts remain around the 20-year-old’s temperament.
His rash challenge, and subsequent red card, against Gent last month effectively cost Tottenham their place in the Europa League while punching West Brom’s Claudio Yacob last year saw him banned for three matches.
Alli joined up with the England squad on Monday ahead of games against Germany and Lithuania, and he claims he has learned from his mistakes.
“I think I’ve definitely calmed down a bit but it’s important, I’m never going to take that out of my game,” Alli said.
“I’m never going to say sorry for wanting to win or trying as hard as I can but things happen and you have to learn from them. I always want to win.
“The manager knows that’s who I am. He knows I’m not going to change no matter what. We’ve had a few talks and he’s been very supportive so it’s nice to have a manager that backs you like he does.
“I’m still young, I’m 20 years old, there will always be lots of up and downs in football, that’s the way it is. But when things don’t go my way I’ve just got to try to learn from them and keep improving.”
Alli arrived from MK Dons as a central midfielder but Mauricio Pochettino has preferred using him in a more advanced role, either on the left of an attacking three or more centrally behind the striker.
With Harry Kane out injured, however, Alli played centre forward for a spell in the second half against Southampton but he does not see himself moving into that role in the future.
“No I enjoy playing in the number 10 but I’m happy to play anywhere in this team,” Alli said.
“If the manager wants to push me a bit higher in some games I’m happy to do that but I am a midfielder so I enjoy playing everywhere.”
Alli now has 18 goals for club and country this season and his predatory instincts could be crucial to Spurs given Kane is set to be out for four to six weeks with an ankle injury.
“I think all the boys feel extra responsibility,” Alli said.
“H is a fantastic striker who can get a goal from nothing so as soon as he got injured we knew it was important we all stepped up and chipped in with the goals.
“He’ll keep supporting us from off the pitch and we’ll just keep trying to carry on and get the points.”