Brave Dele Alli pictured in Everton training for first time since heartbreaking interview about abuse and pill addiction

DELE ALLI has returned to Everton training for the first time since his brave tell-all interview.

The England midfielder, 27, revealed his sleeping pill addiction and says a huge number of players are suffering with the issue.

Dele Alli has retuned to training with Everton during pre-seasonGetty

Dele returned to training for the first time after his powerful interviewGetty

He made the admission in a hard-hitting interview with Gary Neville in which he also revealed he was sexually abused as a child.

The star, who spent part of last season on loan at Besiktas, also opened up on his difficult childhood during which he sold drugs at eight and was hung off a bridge at 11.

Today Dele was pictured working with Toffees staff in Evian, France as he takes his first steps to returning to the game.

With Dele watching on, Sean Dyche’s men began their pre-season  with a 2-1 win over Stade Nyonnais.

A leading sleep expert agrees with the Everton ace that the addiction to prescription drugs is ‘rife’ in English football.

James Wilson, who has worked with several sides in England, said: “You hear stories from players and staff that say: ‘You should go and work with this club because every first-team player is taking sleeping pills every night.

“They are not generally good for your sleep and they are not good for recovery so that is why they are not a good idea in football.

“The fact they are addictive is the cherry on the cake. The use is rife in football because the job itself contributes to poor sleep.

“They can be addictive but also the sleeping tablet doesn’t give you sleep, it knocks you out. Sleeping pills impact on REM sleep.

“Without that  REM sleep, the sleeping pill without him knowing will have contributed to him not being able to deal with the mental health issues that he was living with.”

Wilson does not blame club doctors for prescribing sleeping pills but has urged further training and education to ensure a severe change  in the attitude towards them.

He added: “We need to be educating players younger about sleep and we need to support players around their mental health.

“Often poor sleep can be caused by things going on in the players’ lives.

“We are not great at supporting men’s feelings. There needs to be more done there.

Dele opened up about his battle with a sleeping pill addictionGetty

Dele also revealed he suffered abuse when he was a childGetty

“There needs to be better-trained staff. It is more about nutritionists, physios or sports therapists having a better understanding of sleep so they can advise better.

“There also needs to be a cultural change. If senior and successful players are taking them then younger players look up to them and it becomes a myth.

“The problem in football is we approach sleep like we approach training: ‘The harder I try the better I get. If I put X, Y, Z in, I’ll get X, Y, Z out’ but sleep is not like that.”

Former Oxford United psychotherapist Gary Bloom added: “Football clubs are only just waking up to the realisation that when people have off-field issues, these inevitably end up on the field.

“More clubs should be employing psychotherapists who are able to mix and  mingle freely with players and warn them of the consequences if they don’t clean up their personal problems.”

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please call the Samaritans for free on 116123.

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