Troy Parrott has only spent a week and a half with Antonio Conte but the Tottenham Hotspur boss has already made it clear what he wants from the young Irishman.
The 20-year-old striker was on a season-long loan at MK Dons when the Italian arrived at the helm last November and met him for the first time when he returned for pre-season training earlier this month. Whatever Conte saw in those sessions at Hotspur Way prompted him to inform Parrott that he would be joining the first team squad on their tour to South Korea.
Parrott's last tour came as a 17-year-old back in 2019 when he impressed as a youngster in Singapore and Shanghai, earning himself his first team debut a couple of months later in the Carabao Cup before making his first Premier League appearances later that season for Spurs as well as his bow in the FA Cup.
The following years brought loans away from the club, a difficult half-season one at Millwall in the Championship followed by a better one at Ipswich in League One. Then last season brought the MK Dons move, one that started slowly but kicked into gear for the young Republic of Ireland international in spectacular fashion midway through as he scored 10 goals and provided seven assists as the team just fell short in the League One play-offs.
football.london understands that Parrott's own plan is to spend another season out on loan before returning to really challenge for a place in the first team squad at Spurs in the 2023/24 season. The youngster is desperate to make his mark at the club that brought him over to England in 2017.
A long line of Championship clubs are believed to be interested in taking him on loan, including Swansea, Middlesbrough, Preston and QPR. Parrott's current deal with Spurs runs until the summer of 2023 but there is an option within that contract for the club to extend it by a further year.
Parrott's plan for the future is shared by Tottenham and he is getting the chance to leave an impression on Conte in Korea before the club pick the perfect loan move to continue his progression with plenty of game time as a number nine, rather than the number 10 role he played with MK Dons.
Conte has already been working with the 20-year-old to let him know exactly what he expects from him as a striker within his idea of football.
"During training he came in and helped me with some little stuff. Just telling me what he wants from the attacking players and that's all I can ask for really," Parrott told football.london before explaining what Conte told him. "Our position is important for the press. It's a different energy and then in possession just being an option and being available for players when they've got the ball. Making sure I'm there to receive the ball."
On his increasing strength in holding up the ball in attack, the striker added: "It's going to come, more physically with age, as you get older. I'm working hard on it. I was working hard in the off-season to try to get more strength and I feel strong, I feel good."
Conte's gruelling pre-seasons are the stuff of football legend and one training session on Tuesday in the heat and humidity of Korea had Harry Kane throwing up at the side of the pitch after falling to the floor and Son Heung-min and others also falling with exhaustion during the constant pitch-long runs at the end of the two-hour session.
The players who returned earliest for pre-season had to complete 42 of the runs and those who came back later 30. Parrott was in the former camp and he led home the last of the 42 runs.
"It's been tough. It's been tough to be fair, but enjoyable nevertheless. It's been good to see the way [Conte] works. It's been good to be back with the lads and catching up with people," said the Irishman.
When asked whether those training sessions were as horrible as suggested, he added: "It depends who you ask. I'm quite a good runner naturally, but yeah it's been tough. It's been hard work but it's all preparation."
Last season Parrott took some big steps up the football ladder after his MK Dons loan needed a moment of reflection from himself a couple of months in.
"In a way yes . I just wanted to give it everything. I realised the loan wasn't going too well at that stage of the season and I needed to have a big six months for the second half of the campaign to come back here full of confidence and playing well," he said. "I think that's what I did to be honest. I was trying to give my best every game, giving my all and it went well from that point.
"I think, from speaking to other players, everyone goes through a bit of their own stuff. I don't think you can put your finger on just one thing. It's a number of things coming together and just making sure you prepare right and when you're on the pitch doing the things that will keep you on the pitch. Just make yourself too hard to drop and that's what I was trying to do in every game. You could say it was a turning point but I was just more confident, I was scoring goals and it was a good time."
As a young striker on the training pitches, there are few better inspirations than Harry Kane and Son Heung-min and Parrott admitted to football.london that he will always ask both of them questions about the art of being a forward because they make themselves available.
"From when I first came in as a kid, just to watch them, let alone train with the guys like that day in, day out, was a massive help. Just to see the way they prepare, the way they play on the pitch, just trying to take things in," he explained. "When I'm curious about stuff I'll ask and they're always open people who will do anything to help."
Now Parrott is moving up the striker ladder, does he provide the same advice to those young attackers in the academy below him, such as Dane Scarlett and Jamie Donley?
"As much as I could really. (Laughs) I don't think I can give too much. If any of the younger lads came to me and ask for anything, whether it's on football or off football I'll always be there to help. That's what I was like and that's what I'm now there for," he said.
Parrott admitted that for now he is simply focusing on impressing Conte rather than what comes next this summer and he is excited about what Tottenham's future holds under the Italian.
"I'm not too sure what's going to happen [to me]. Since pre-season started I've been focused just on this tour and focused on doing whatever I can to impress the boss and impress the coaching staff," he said.
"They've got some great players, got a great manager and I think they should be aiming for the most they can get. The sky is the limit."
(Football London - Alasdair Gold)