Sam Surridge has pinpointed promotion to the Premier League as his driving ambition with Swansea City as he returns following the international break.
The Swans striker – currently on a season-long loan from Bournemouth – was a late call-up to the England U21 squad and scored on his debut in the 2-2 draw in Slovenia.
Surridge was then an unused substitute in the 5-1 thrashing of Austria which took England to the top of their Euro U21 qualifying group.
But now the tall front man – who has scored four goals for the Swans so far this season – has his mind focussed again on club football as the recently deposed Championship leaders look to recover from a shock home defeat to Stoke City by winning at Barnsley on Saturday.
Swansea manager Steve Cooper has been sparring in his use of Surridge so far, with all seven of his League appearances coming from off the bench, but the 21-year-old says: “Coops has been brilliant with me.
“When I joined he knew about me from watching games so I trusted him and he’s got Marge [Martyn Margetson] the goalkeeping coach who is here with England and Marshy [Mike Marsh], and they’ve all been really good.
“It’s a bonus for me that we’re doing so well. If we get promoted it’ll be even better for me because that would be a massive thing for me personally.
“It’s a stepping stone, and that’s what I’ve been told every time I go out on loan, you’ve got to prove yourself.”
In all, the Swans had 10 players away on either senior or U21 international duty over the past 10 days – Joe Rodon and Connor Roberts with Wales, plus Jack Evans, Ben Cabango, Brandon Cooper and Keiran Evans with the Wales U21 squad.
Midfielder Bersant Celina played for Kosovo, while goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfelt was with Sweden.
As well as Surridge, defender Ben Wilmott was also with England U21s.
Now, with all his players back at the club, Cooper’s message is that his squad can move on quickly from their defeat to Stoke.
“We’ve had some great results this season so far. Off the back of the one at Charlton, we didn’t get too high,” said Cooper.
“Although we’re disappointed by the defeat to Stoke we’re not going to get too low either.
“We’ll learn from it, we’ll step forward, we’ve dealt with the international break exactly as we planned and will get ready for Barnsley.
“I think the Stoke performance stands alone in terms of how it was. I don’t think it was similar to other performances.
“We fell short in too many ways, but it was a bit of a one-off in terms of pattern and the focus will be on looking at ourselves.”