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Player in Focus: Lloyd Isgrove re-building his career

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A fresh start

Lloyd Isgrove is having an excellent season so far at Swindon – can he re-build a career for himself in the upper-echelons of the EFL?

Gabriel Sutton (@_FootbalLab) discusses.

Unused at Southampton

Lloyd Isgrove was on the books at Southampton from the age of nine in 2002 and, having signed professionally in 2012, only left the club as recently as 2017 – in a decade-and-a-half, just one league appearance for the Saints was all he had to show for his efforts.

He performed reasonably well at Championship level for Sheffield Wednesday, during his loan stint.

Isgrove was recognized as a direct runner, somebody with raw energy and the ability to get fans off seats but his end product in South Yorkshire was hit and miss, so he decided to drop down to League One.

Promotion at Barnsley

Isgrove really made his name at Barnsley, inspiring them to promotion after arriving in October 2015.

He formed a great understanding with Sam Winnall and Ashley Fletcher – who have since gone on to be proven Championship performers – in a front-three under Paul Heckingbottom.

Isgrove did not necessarily pose a goal threat, but he stretched play on the right and provided all the service for Winnall and then Fletcher coming in from the left – that was so important in the Play-Off Semi-Final victory over Walsall that year.

Ironically, Isgrove timed his first goal for the Reds perfectly – the 74th-minute of the League One Play-Off Final against Millwall, which resulted in a 3-1 win and thus, a promotion and EFL Trophy Wembley double.

Recent struggles

Since that outstanding 2015-16 season, though, Isgrove has struggled for games – just 27 of them in all competitions up to summer 2019.

He spent effectively the whole of 2016-17 sat in Southampton’s reserve side, then returned to Barnsley after being released in the summer but struggled to recapture his prior form at a different level.

In 2018-19, a lot of fans though Isgrove must be injured but in truth he had merely fallen out of head coach Daniel Stendel’s plans – and clearly these events, combined with an ineffectual stint at Portsmouth, over the last three years, have affected his confidence.

Re-building in League Two

After being released by Barnsley, a season in League Two seems to have given Isgrove the opportunity to re-build his confidence.

The 26-year-old has started the 2019-20 campaign in flying form for Swindon Town, as part of an exciting attacking quartet with Keshi Anderson, Jerry Yates and Eoin Doyle.

Isgrove already has five assists this term, he has displayed outstanding creative qualities relative to this level and, as we saw in the 2-0 win at Scunthorpe on day one, has been a key threat on the counter-attack.

Isgrove could be back on an upward curve – so could Swindon.