Derby County’s Under-23s will be able to call upon a familiar face when they take on Birmingham City in the Premier League Cup at St George’s Park on Monday.
Timi Max Elsnik has spent the majority of this season on loan with Sky Bet League Two side Swindon Town, joining the Robins at the end of August after making a single appearance for the Rams against Grimsby Town in the Carabao Cup.
The 19-year-old midfielder has been out for nearly two months with a hamstring injury but he has been training back at Derby this week, with the view of making his comeback for Darren Wassall’s side as they look to cement their place at the top of Group A.
Elsnik is thrilled to be back, and he revealed that he’s been keeping an eye on the progress of the Rams at all levels so far this season.
Speaking to RamsTV, he said: “It’s a special feeling, especially after an injury, I just can’t wait to be back with the lads out on the pitch.
“They’re a good group, we always have a fun time with each other so I can’t wait to get back to it.
“It’s a big game and hopefully I’m going to have a big part in it. The lads are ready, they’ve been in good form and they prepare well so there is nothing to be afraid of.
“The Under-23s have been doing well and obviously the first team are flying at the moment, I think everything is going brilliantly at the club, so we just need to continue and hopefully next season we will be in the top flight.”
Elsnik’s Swindon have enjoyed a strong first half to the season in League Two, and David Flitcroft’s side currently occupy ninth place, but they are only two points off the automatic promotion positions.
The Slovenian admits that the competitive edge required in the professional game is the biggest difference that he’s noticed from Academy football.
He said: “From now until the end of the season will be a massive stretch and you’ve got to be in a good position to finish the season strongly so I’m going to give my all for the fans, teammates and coaches.
“Promotion to League One is the main aim this season. It’s the biggest difference from playing with the Under-23s, the stakes are higher and there is more pressure from the media and fans.
“There is a bigger goal to play for and that can give you a boost. You need it as a young player, with the Academy and the Under-23s you learn the technical and tactical part of the game, but in League One you learn the physical side and how to play for the points.”