Harvey Elliott insists he is ready to take his game to the next level as he eyes Euro 2024.
The Liverpool midfielder captained England Under-21s for the first time on Monday, leading the Young Lions as they slipped to a late 3-2 defeat to Ukraine in Slovakia.
He returns to domestic action this weekend, looking to force his way into the Liverpool line-up for Saturday’s Merseyside derby with Everton.
Despite a frustrating lack of starts for the Reds this term, Euro 2024 remains a real goal for Elliott, after England’s 3-1 win over Italy on Tuesday booked their place in Germany, and he is primed to take his chance.
He said: “Absolutely, I’ve felt ready for a while now. It’s just about making sure I keep applying myself to be the best possible player and person I can be.
“It’s a nice goal to reach and aim towards. The tunnel vision is there, it’s taking it game-by-game, and if the opportunity comes I’ll be the happiest kid in the world.
“The Under-21s is my main focus, make sure I’m applying myself and being the best possible person and player for myself.
“If you’re not doing that there’s no change. You have to do the basics right, set a good example, and if the opportunity comes it comes. If not, you have to keep working and, hopefully, one day it will come.”
Elliott has started just once in the Premier League this term but came off at half time in the 2-2 draw at Brighton just before the international break.
Jurgen Klopp’s summer midfield refresh has seen Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner, Naby Keita and Fabinho leave Liverpool, with Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and Ryan Gravenberch joining.
The competition has restricted Elliott to 164 minutes in the Premier League and he is under no illusions about the challenge at Anfield.
He said: “I’m just trying to take everything from Hendo and Milner, big characters in the dressing room who have left. I’m not trying to be the next Hendo or Milly but be the best version of myself and the leader I’ve learned to be off them.
“I always knew the season was going to be like this. Liverpool, being a world-class team, are always going to attract unbelievable players and that’s exactly what they’ve done.
“It’s healthy competition. Not everyone is guaranteed to play, and when you get your chance you have to make sure you take it. The quality is there, it’s about applying it on the pitch.
“I feel I can do a job wherever I’m put. The most important thing is putting that red shirt on and playing. I’m working as hard as I can to get into the team.
“It’s down to me to make sure I apply myself and not only show the boss but show the world I’m good enough to play wherever I’m put.”
The former Fulham youngster also cherishes his relationship with Mo Salah as he learns off the forward.
“He’s always helping me out. We have a great relationship when we play. Off the pitch we’re always talking and I’m always trying to learn off him,” said Elliott.
“For me to look up to him, he’s the best possible player. As well as play with him, I’m trying to be as good as him, if that’s possible.
“He’s a great guy and an unbelievable player. To look up to him and everyone else in the team is great, I’m grateful to be playing with these guys.”