Tottenham's Dele Alli heading for 20 goals as he bids to learn from his past mistakes

The England midfielder shining in a more advanced role this season, responding perfectly to his disastrous Europa League red card last month

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Dele Alli is growing up at exactly the right time for Tottenham. 

The England midfielder does not even turn 21 for another three weeks but he is already taking a senior leadership role in this Spurs side. On Sunday he scored his 15th Premier League goal of a remarkable season, playing almost as a centre-forward for Mauricio Pochettino’s team.

In the absence of Harry Kane, out with an ankle ligament injury, his team-mates have to take more responsibility but that is what Alli is doing.

Alli spoke after scoring against Southampton on Sunday, about how he has added goals to his game this season and responded to the set-back of his straight red card against KAA Gent at Wembley which contributed to Spurs crashing out of Europe. He said that he is still learning all the time in this, his second season in the Premier League.

“I have so many things to learn from this season,” Alli said on Sunday. “Everyone makes mistakes and it's important that you bounce back. I felt horrible straight after [the red card] but it's important I put it behind me and make sure I learn from it and keep improving.”

Alli has had problems with his temperament on the pitch in the past but said that, despite that red card at Wembley, his behaviour is better this season, although he does not want to lose the edge from his game.

“I have calmed down a bit but it's important that I am never going to take that out of my game,” he said. “I'm never going say sorry for wanting to win or trying as hard as I can. Sometimes things happen and you have to learn from them.”

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Alli had a fine game against Southampton (Getty Images)

Pochettino has always encouraged Alli to not lose the edge from his game and he pointedly defended Alli after that costly red card. Pochettino appreciates that trust and wants to reward it. “He knows that's who I am,” Alli said. “We have had a few talks and he's been really supportive. It's good to have a manager behind me who trusts and supports me as much as he does.” 

That growing up has also led to Alli taking on a more forward role in the team. He has been playing almost as a second striker, behind Kane, and on Sunday he effectively led the line at times. He said all Spurs players feel a duty to take on Kane’s responsibilities.

“All the boys do,” Alli said. “Harry is a fantastic striker and who can get you a goal out of nothing. As soon as he got injured, we felt it was important that we all stepped up, did our piece and chipped in with the goals now. He will keep supporting us off the pitch and it's important we get the points.” It is now plausible that Alli could finish the season as Spurs’ top scorer which would be a remarkable record and one no-one would have expected last year.

“I always want more, I'm always hungry,” Alli said. “It's important the team keep scoring and we keep winning games.”

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