There was one man in attendance at Molineux on Sunday who would’ve been impressed by what he saw during Tottenham’s 1-0 win over Wolves.
Fresh from leading England to the final of Euro 2020 during the summer, Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate took his seat in the West Midlands to cast his eye over players.
Although the Premier League season may have got underway just over a week ago, league action will take a brief pause after this weekend’s fixtures with the first international break of the campaign taking place.
England will be involved in World Cup qualifiers at the start of September, with away games against Hungary and Poland either side of a home match against Andorra.
Southgate’s squad will more than likely be very similar to the one he selected for the Euros but, as always, there could be a few different faces named as part of his plans.
Taking on a different role in the Tottenham team this term under Nuno Espirito Santo, the 25-year-old is playing as more of a box-to-box midfielder rather than his previous position just behind Harry Kane in attack.
Initially taking a few games in pre-season to adapt to his role on the left of a midfield three, everything seemed to come together in the win over Arsenal at the start of the month and he’s really kicked on from there.
While he may not have been able to have that big an impact in the final third in the win over Man City as he showcased a different side to his game with plenty of running, the former MK Dons man made the difference at Molineux on Sunday.
Following a perfectly-timed run into the box as Sergio Reguilon played him in, Alli was brought down by Jose Sa and stepped up seconds later to convert the spot kick.
Also making a big impact at the opposite end of the pitch following a brilliant block to stop Francisco Trincao’s effort testing Hugo Lloris in the second half, the midfielder again did plenty of dirty work that may have gone unnoticed by some watching on, but definitely not Southgate.
Espirito Santo was full of praise for his player when speaking in his post-match press conference, claiming that he was a “huge, huge help” in the victory.
“He’s working very hard. I think all the team is working hard,” the head coach told football.london . “We still have a long way to go and are working very hard to improve, the relationship between players and being very versatile enough.
“Dele did a very good job and he worked very hard. He scored in the beginning of the game and in the last minutes of the game he was running all over the pitch so that shows the level of fitness that he has and the belief that he has. A huge, huge help.
“All the team worked very hard. You know that it was not the best of our games but when you cannot play as good as you want you need to do your tasks well and the boys did amazing, they did amazing.”
Alli was asked about life in his new role when speaking to Spurs TV post-match and he indicated that he has plenty to do despite such a promising start.
“I’m happy, again there’s a lot I need to work on” he said. “It’s been a different role for me so far, a lot of working hard and defending and fighting for the team. That’s what I like to do as well.
“It’s been a good start but got to keep improving.”
Outstanding in his first couple of seasons at the club following his move from MK Dons in 2015, Alli has struggled to maintain his sky-high levels in recent years due to niggling injuries and a loss of form.
Falling well out of favour with Jose Mourinho last season as he missed out on the matchday squad more often that not before Ryan Mason was installed as interim head coach in April, Alli has not played international football for England since the summer of 2019 following their game against Switzerland in the UEFA Nations League.
Two strong performances in Tottenham’s opening two Premier League matches is a good start for the player but now it’s about kicking on from here, becoming a permanent fixture in the side and getting back to his very best.
If the midfielder can do that then it could well result in an England recall at some point down the line from Southgate, who demonstrated at the start of the year that he will pick players on merit after Jesse Lingard received a call-up again after an incredible turnaround after departing Manchester United for West Ham on loan.
Another player who may have impressed the 50-year-old at Molineux is Oliver Skipp.
Returning to Tottenham this summer and subsequently earning a place in the starting XI after a standout loan spell at Norwich City, the England U21 regular is someone Southgate will know well as he always keeps an eye on the U21s and offers them a step up to the senior side.
As is the case with Alli, Skipp will be battling with a host of midfielders for a place in the squad but he is just concentrating on life at Tottenham at present.
“I’m not getting carried away. I’ve only played two games this season, but as a player it’s a dream to represent your country, especially at the moment after seeing how they did at the Euros,” explained the youngster when asked about Southgate watching on in the West Midlands.
From the latest transfer news to those glorious wins in north London and beyond! There might even be a laugh or two too.
“So it’s always something I’m pushing for but there’s no rush on my behalf. All I can do is keep playing and performing and that takes care of itself really, but there’s no rush on my side.”
Only going to get better playing alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg week in, week out, Skipp is seen as someone who can push for an England spot in the future and a strong season at Tottenham will only strengthen his chances.
Both Alli and Skipp will have made an impression on Southgate at Molineux on Sunday and now it’s down to the both to carry on their strong starts as Spurs look to maintain their place towards the top of the league.
It may not be the last we see of the England boss at Tottenham games this season.