Fulham star Ryan Sessegnon has revealed he has put on a stone in weight and hit the gym in a bid to make himself more competitive in the Premier League.
Sessegnon played a key role in helping Fulham secure promotion to the Premier League, scoring 16 goals last season as they came up via the play-offs.
The 18-year-old has made a steady if unspectacular transition to life in the top division but has started six of Fulham’s opening eight games.
Sessegnon is currently preparing for England U21s’ final Euro 2019 qualifier in Scotland on Tuesday but feels his fitness regime will help him hold his own in the Premier League.
“I’ve got in the gym a few times this season to get bigger and stronger to face better and bigger players,” he said.
“There is a physicality where I had to become a bit bigger to face bigger players.
“I feel bigger, I feel faster and I feel stronger and I think you can see that in some of the games where my speed has got me out of a bit of trouble.
“I did it knowing I’d be playing in the Premier League. I knew it’s very physical in parts and in the position I play in I need to be strong.
“It was my idea to get in the gym. Fulham have pushed me as well to be in there two or three times a week, not just weights but flexibility as well to help my all-round body.
“We do yoga once every two weeks. A woman comes in and we have a little class and it helps as well.”
Sessegnon has been tipped as a future senior star for England, although he has seen Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho elevated to Gareth Southgate’s squad ahead of him.
He admits talk of a senior call-up keeps him motivated, with Sessegnon having helped the England U21s book their Euro 2019 spot with a 7-0 win over Andorra on Thursday.
“It keeps you focused, it makes you happy knowing they are thinking of you but it drives you to be better and improve your game so you can get into the senior squad,” he added.
“You saw in the World Cup they had a specific way of playing. It was controlled possession, a lot of attacking entries in the final third and you can see that with all the age groups.
“Gareth has a way of playing and you can see that in all the age groups. It’s exciting to be an English player at the moment.
“With the U21s we’ve not got another major tournament with the national team and it’s another opportunity to win another tournament.”