"Tony's doing his negotiations on the field and every game that he plays, every group of three or five games that he plays puts him in a stronger position," Southgate told the Sunday Sun. "The option is there for him. The options there for him two months ago were completely different to what's there for him now.
"I'm delighted for him, he's playing well and showing that he can play at this level. He's got to do it over a period of time.
"Unfortunately, because of his injuries he's not been in a position of strength, but he's getting himself into one.
"He's had an incredibly difficult couple of years with two broken legs and a couple of other quite serious injuries.
"You never know if players will come back from injury or not and the reality is that he's not out of the woods yet - he's in the middle stages of coming back from that period of time out.
"The mental hurdle, as much as the physical one, is huge for any injured athlete coming back. There are lots of small steps that they take.
"The great thing for Tony is that he's been playing League football and he's put a consistent run of games together, which for anybody coming back from injury is important.
"He's been waiting for his opportunity and a chance to go in there and show people what he can do. Now he has to keep doing it."