Mark Allen put on a disappointing performance in a loss to Ding Junhui (Image: Getty Images)

Stephen Hendry believes Mark Allen is struggling with a lack of breakbuilding and a lack of intensity and that he needs to solve both issues to compete for the world title this year.

Allen entered the Tour championship as number one this week thanks to his three league wins this season, but his challenge in Hull didn’t last long.

Ding Junhui played very well, but the Northern Irishman wasn’t great in a 10-5 defeat to the Chinese star that sent him home on the opening night of the tournament.

After a fantastic season so far, there has been much talk of a first world title for the Pistol, but Hendry is concerned about the significant decline in his goal-scoring ability of late.

Allen has amassed 40 tons this season, but none in his last nine matches, the last of which was a first-round victory over Alfie Burden at the Welsh Open on February 13.

The Pistol won that game and has since won five games so it’s not a disaster, but Hendry says it will worry him that it needs to be fixed if he wants to challenge in Sheffield.

After losing to Ding, Hendry told ITV4, “He [Ding] was by far the heaviest goalscorer of the two players, Mark Allen just didn’t have it. His batting average let him down in the worst part of the season, it has to be said

“Really disappointing performance from him, but thanks to Ding he kept scoring. 50s, 60s all day.

“You should try to forget it and go back to the practice table. His scoring will worry him because that’s what he’s known for and this season he’s scored big with the breaks of the century.

“If I were him I’d just practice until the table was cleared in Sheffield. Get that breakbuilding back.

Hendry thinks the British champion’s behavior needs to change too, as he wants to see a fiery Allen at the table again.

“His general treatment of the table is not the Mark Allen we know, he is usually an intense looking character,” said the seven-time world champion. “He looks a little subdued. I’d like to see a little more fire in his belly.”

Allen has had a great season, but is not in top form at the moment (Picture: Getty Images)

Alan McManus also acted as a pundit at ITV and had further advice for Allen, saying he needed to loosen up a bit to find his best form.

“Mark was a bit unlucky, but you have to score straight away and then you’re out of luck,” said Angles.

“His method now… he plays with tense shoulders, that doesn’t work. You have to play with shoulder freedom to shoot through the ball. He’s been delayed three or four times today and that’s worrying.”

Allen was nervous after the loss, disappointed with the way he played, but refused to panic after a good season and ahead of the biggest event of the season.

“Started well, first two frames were decent, missed a tricky red in the third frame and everything started to go wrong,” said the world number three.

“You play against the best players in the world in their current form, so if you don’t play well in this tournament you will be beaten, it’s that simple.

“There’s no time for me to panic, I’m going to train hard at home and get ready for Sheffield now.”

Speaking to WST, Allen said he would find a quick way to beat the game and it would come in liquid form.

“I’m going to get really drunk tonight because that was a really bad performance today,” he said.

“I feel like I prepared really well, been groggy, trained hard, went to the gym and it was an achievement I didn’t expect because the last few days of training have been really good.

“Tonight a well-deserved drink and then back to the practice table.

“Hopefully I get really, really drunk and don’t remember.”