Joe Allen is ready to put his injury struggles firmly behind him and make a fresh start to life at Liverpool when the 2013-14 campaign gets underway.
The midfielder played 37 games last season despite carrying a shoulder injury, which eventually required him to undergo surgery in March.
It meant he missed the remainder of the campaign; however, it also afforded him ample time for recuperation.
After returning to preseason training at Melwood this week, Allen insists he feels recovered — and he’s eager to build on his first season at Anfield.
“My shoulder feels great, I feel back to normal,” Allen told LFC TV. “Physically, it will feel a bit strange for the first couple of weeks, but I can feel that confidence coming back.
“[Over the summer] I had to continue my rehab, but luckily, by the end of last season I had done most of the things I needed to, so it was just a case of keeping on top of it.
“I got the all-clear earlier this week to get on with full training.
“It’s brilliant to be back. Obviously we all enjoy our break and our holidays but at the same time we can’t wait to get back in and get started.
“Having missed the end of last season, I personally couldn’t wait to get back in. Hopefully I can put the injury behind me once and for all.
“I think for anyone, your first year at a new club can be tough in some ways, but I feel settled here now and I’m looking forward to a fresh start with the coming season. Hopefully I can put in some good performances.”
Allen may be keen to make a return to action, but the Wales international insists he is not setting too many targets for the coming campaign.
“I think last season I may have put myself under too much pressure with things like that,” he admitted. “So it’s a case of just giving my best every day in training and in every match. That’s all I can do really.”
The hard work has already begun, with the Reds squad returning to Melwood fresh from their summer break, to face a grueling reintroduction to their daily fitness routine.
“The first couple of weeks of preseason are always tough — I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t,” admitted the 23-year-old. ”You look forward to getting back in, but at the same time, you’re a bit nervous about what’s in front of you and how hard it’s going to be. But it’s all necessary of course, going into the season.”
A flurry of recent transfer activity has seen Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas, Simon Mignolet and Kolo Toure arrive at Anfield over the past two weeks.
The new signings all reported for their first day of preseason training on Wednesday — and Allen has had the chance to make an early assessment of how they are adjusting.
“They’ve settled in really well,” he said. “With new signings you sometimes worry that it might take them a little time to adapt, but they’ve settled straight in and they’ve got into the swing of things straight away, which is a really, really positive sign.”
Meanwhile, it was announced on Wednesday that Jonjo Shelvey had completed a move to Swansea, the club Allen joined as a nine-year-old in 1999.
Having spent his entire pre-Anfield career at the Liberty Stadium, Allen was perfectly placed to offer some friendly advice to Shelvey, prior to him agreeing the move.
“He talked about it a little bit with me,” explained Allen. “He’s sad to leave Liverpool, but he’s really looking forward to getting down there.”