Manchester United defender Luke Shaw has admitted he only had himself to blame for last season's disappointing debut season with the club.
The 20-year-old left-back moved to Old Trafford from Southampton for £27m ($41.98m) in June 2014 but failed to impress new manager Louis van Gaal, who criticised the player's fitness.
"He needs to be fit and is not very fit and fit enough to do what I want. He needs to train individually until he is fit. I cannot judge that, but I see what I see," Van Gaal told the press in America at the time, according to The Independent.
One year on, Shaw has aknowledged that he wasn't at 100% when he joined the Red Devils. Now, after spending plenty of time on the substitutes' bench and treatment table last term, he's ready to prove his worth to the Dutch tactician and force his way into the reckoning.
"I only had myself to blame. I didn't arrive at the club in the correct shape and things didn't go to plan. The manager told me his feelings and I totally accepted that. At a massive club like United you have to be at your best," he is quoted as saying during the pre-season tour of North America by Goal.com.
"But I learned and this season I feel much fitter, much sharper and I have the experience of a year at Manchester United behind me. The big difference is my fitness. I got a good 45 minutes [against Club America in Seattle] and hopefully I can keep pushing on."
European Under-21 Championships
Shaw certainly didn't spend all of his summer on a sunbed, despite his omission from the England Under-21 squad that travelled to the European Championships in the Czech Republic. Young Lions coach Gareth Southgate confirmed on 20 May that the player wasn't fit, having failed to recover from a concussion suffered against Crystal Palace 11 days earlier. He'd also suffered groin, ankle and hamstring problems during the Premier League campaign.
"Luke was always very keen to come and Louis (van Gaal) was supportive, but medically he was not fit to come. I knew that last Friday. It's a shame, but we were always going to lose somebody," Southgate told The Guardian.
Instead, the four-cap senior international has been working on his fitness with a United trainer alongside Adnan Januzaj, with the pair looking to gain an edge on their return to the first team.
However, Shaw has been forced to deny that the club ordered him to take a trainer with him to Dubai, insisting it was the idea of the duo to do extra sessions in a bid to impress the manager on their return.
"There were stories that Adnan and I were ordered to take a trainer, but they weren't true. We decided to ask a member of the coaching staff to come with us and we paid his flights," he added.
"He worked us in four sessions per day. We had a football pitch, a gym and an altitude trainer, we did beach runs too. The most important thing for me was to come back fitter pre-season."
New season at Manchester United
Speaking to the official United website over the weekend, Shaw also revealed that his hopes for the new campaign are to be injury-free and get a good run of games in the first team.
He also revealed his delight at the arrivals of Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay this summer, with the Frenchman in particular someone Shaw knows well from their time together at the Saints.
"I just hope I don't get any injuries. I think last season was frustrating because I was picking up little niggles every time I had a couple of games. Hopefully this time I can stay fit, get a good run of games and win a title at the end of the season," he told the club.
"Obviously with Morgan I know him really well from Southampton and it is nice to see him here. We are a good bunch of lads here and we welcome people really easily, so I hope they are enjoying it and looking forward to the games too.
"He [Depay] is around my age and it is nice to have another player come in. You could say we have got on really well but it is just a team thing really. With him playing on the left, it's a good thing. He's a tank! You can see in the pictures he has got a massive physique. He is small but stocky and strong, and quick, so he has been sharp in training. Like I said, he's the same as me, I think he is just looking forward to just getting the games under way."
All three players will be hoping to get another chance to impress Van Gaal in America on Wednesday 22 July, when United face the San Jose Earthquakes in the second match of their tour. It concludes in Europe with games against Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.