Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell is confident that he is back on the right track after a poor run of form.
Less than a year ago it was reported that Rodwell had already agreed to sign for Manchester United over the course of the summer, but any United interest waned as the player struggled in the second half of last season.
Rodwell started only 14 Premier League games for the Toffees last season, but this term has missed just one game and netted his first goal of the campaign in Sunday's 3-1 win at Fulham.
"I feel like I've been stepping up all season,'' Rodwell told the Liverpool Daily Post. "Last season I couldn't get a good run of form and a lot of games under my belt, so it's good to get more back-to-back games.
"I feel more confident on the pitch and (that I am) becoming more of a man. At 20 years old, I feel I am getting stronger now. I feel like a senior player. I've made more than 100 appearances now, although not all of them were starts. I've been in the squad for the last three seasons.''
Manager David Moyes believes the drama of the red card he was shown in the Merseyside derby against Liverpool, a decision which was overturned on appeal, will help the player grow further.
"In a way, I think the backing he has got off everyone after the red card has actually helped him - to see everyone felt it was the right thing to do has shown him his tackle was a good tackle," Moyes explained. "He's tackling in training and the way he's gone about things has improved.
"He knows so many people supported what he did and were behind him. I think he had to realise that, when he didn't have the ball, he had to win the ball back and be competitive.
"When he's got it, he's quite elegant and composed in possession. But when he didn't have it, he had to show the other side to it.
"Hopefully it will help him mature and become an all-round midfield player in whatever type of game he's in - whether he has the ball or whether he's having to help get it back.
"I think Jack's feeling as if he might have to be one of the main men since Mikel [Arteta] left. Before, he was always just 'the boy'. He has to take on that mantle and he's just beginning to look as though he might be able to carry it. "He's got the ability to score with both feet and he's a good striker of the ball. I think he's beginning to believe a wee bit more. He's beginning to understand a bit more about what is expected, as well. So, all round, there are good signs for Jack.
"But even though he's got all the games [under his belt] he's still young and we're keeping our eye on him."
Meanwhile, Moyes says Belgium international midfielder Marouane Fellaini is set to sign a new contract.
"I think it is very close to getting done,'' Moyes said. "I think the chairman and the chief executive have been working on it for a while.
"I've been waiting on the good news and hopefully it's not too far away. He has been a really good player for us over the last few seasons and if we can keep him it will be really good.''