Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has revealed that he has found pre-season challenging following his lengthy lay-off through injury last season.
Having suffered serious ligament damage to his right knee in April 2018, Oxlade-Chamberlain spent a year on the sidelines before returning in the latter stages of Liverpool's 2018/19 campaign.
The 25-year-old has been put through his paces in pre-season, starting six of the side's first seven games as he looks to get back up to full fitness. He has admitted that it has not been easy to return to his best form in recent weeks.
"It's been a bit of a struggle. If I am honest, the last couple of games haven't been at the level that I want. A lot of the lads will feel tired in pre-season. But, for me, it's a bit more of a shock to the system", he told the Daily Mail.
Despite his frustration at struggling to find consistency in his performances, Oxlade-Chamberlain is aware that he must remain patient, keeping a positive mindset as he looks towards the future rather than looking back on a difficult year.
"It's going to be peaks and troughs. Hopefully, I'm at the stage where it will keep improving. I just try to remind myself I have been through the worst of it", he added.
In his absence, Liverpool enjoyed an impressive season in 2018/19, winning the Champions League and pushing Manchester City to the final day in the Premier League title race. Yet Oxlade-Chamberlain is determined to prove that he can get back in to the side and make an impact on Merseyside.
"I don't feel like I really have to prove to my team-mates or anyone in particular what I can do. But, of course, me as a person, I'm quite critical of myself and demand certain standards. I want to show people that I can be a part of this team."
The season's curtain-raiser, the Community Shield, takes place on Sunday with Liverpool taking on Manchester City at Wembley. Oxlade-Chamberlain is expected to take his place in the Liverpool squad. The three-time Community Shield winner from his days with Arsenal will hope to get his chance to shine, after scoring goals against Sunday's opponents in the Premier League and Champions League in his maiden season at Anfield back in 2017/18.