Ange Postecoglou knows James Maddison is eager to make up for lost time but has admitted the Tottenham playmaker found his spell on the sidelines tough.
Maddison will return for Friday’s visit of Manchester City in the FA Cup after almost three months without football due to ankle ligament damage.
It halted Maddison’s brilliant start to life at Spurs and Postecoglou revealed the England midfielder struggled at times during the longest absence of his career.
“Not low but it was tough for him, because he does love his football, he loves the environment of football clubs, he loves the dressing room,” Postecoglou said.
“He’s kind of a force within that. It’s hard for all players when they’ve got to go through rehab, especially a character like him.
“I suggest that our sports science staff wouldn’t enjoy the one-on-one with Madders. He’s more of a guy who wants to be in the group.
“We did send him away in the middle of it. We felt it was good for him to get away with his family, we sent a physio with him (to Dubai).
“I think that helped bridge that time. When he got back from that, he was refreshed.
“I know what Madders expects and, in training, you wouldn’t know that he’s missed so much. The quality is there straight away and everyone notices it and he’s looking good physically.
“And he’s the kind of guy who will want to make up for lost time and come back in and make an impact straight away.”
Spurs have not played for two weeks and the break has enabled Maddison to return to full fitness while Ben Davies and Dane Scarlett have recovered from hamstring problems.
Dejan Kulusevski is also available after illness ruled him out of the 2-2 draw at Manchester United a fortnight ago, but Giovani Lo Celso is still sidelined with a muscle issue.
He added: “My family were away and they just got back, so it was some quiet time at home.
“I kind of use those moments to look a bit farther down and see stuff that needs to do. While the cold face of it is games to prepare for and win, there is some longer-term stuff I am still keen to build within the club.
“You start mapping out those things and see if we can make an impact now or a bit later or when we are going to make an impact.
“It all helps you to get to where you want. Everybody wants to get away but even if I got away I would be thinking along those lines.
“I take what I do really seriously and I feel that sometimes if I switch off for too long, I am kind of missing something. That is the way I am wired.”