From the outside, it appears that Timi Max Elsnik and Kellan Gordon are thriving at Swindon Town.
The Rams midfielders both linked up with the Robins on a loan deal until January and as we approach Christmas, we wanted to catch up with how the pair are getting on.
“I’m not saying it’s not a challenge with the Under-23s, it is, but heading out on loan you are playing men’s football week in, week out. Playing first team football is what we all aspire to be playing and I would be advising anyone my age to go out there and get the experience,” Gordon said.
Since making his Derby debut as a substitute in the Carabao Cup First Round win over Grimsby Town, the wideman has played 17 times for the Robins and scored three goals.
Similarly, Elsnik has made 12 appearances for Swindon and found the net on three occasions too: “I’m enjoying the experience,” he said.
“I’m playing a lot of games and that was the main thing I wanted from going out on loan. We were promised we would get a chance and we have had. I think me, and Kellan have both done well.
“League 2 football is different to anything I have experienced before. Over the first few weeks I was just getting used to what the manager wanted from us and after that, it’s been fine.
“Once you start to see how things work and deal with that pressure from the fans and everyone wanting you to do well, it’s so rewarding.
“It’s all about the three points and it doesn’t matter how that is achieved because the ultimate goal is getting up into the next division.”
As we approach the busy Christmas period, Gordon and Elsnik are part of a Swindon side that is well in the thick of a promotion battle.
Sitting just outside the top seven, Gordon has spoken about the pressure that is on the group’s shoulders: “There’s also far more pressure to win. There’s three points at stake every game we are right up there fighting for promotion.
“It’s far tougher physically too – every game is a battle and every game seems to really have something riding on it. I think I’m thriving off that pressure of fighting for something massive to the club.”
What about the group around them?
Elsnik and Gordon have gone from training predominantly with Darren Wassall’s Under-23s squad into a senior environment and one player in particular seems to have been an influence on the Rams pair.
“Matty Taylor has been a Premier League player,” Elsnik said. “He’s got a great free kick on him too, so I have been able to pick up a few tips off him on that!
“I would say he has got the most experience in the dressing room and when things are not going well, he will have a word and try and give us a boost. He’s a massive influence.”
Both Gordon and Elsnik are three months into their loan spells at Swindon and a decision will be made at the beginning of January as to whether they remain at the County Ground until the end of the campaign.
With that, the final part of this conversation turns to development. Has it been beneficial so far?
“We’ve played a lot of games and started to score goals too now,” Gordon said. “That is what I wanted to add to my game and to score in the Football League is a brilliant feeling.
“Adapting to the physical side of the game has been a big learning curve and I think Timi would say the same on that front. It has helped that I have been able to share this experience with him and help each other through it.
“The whole squad has been great with us, though. Personally, it helped that I also knew Reice (Charles-Cook) and Keishi (Anderson), who joined at a similar time to ourselves. They are younger players, but are experienced for their age and having them around has helped me along.”