A year is a long, long time in football. Just ask Doncaster Rovers’ rising star Liam Mandeville.
The teenager is honest enough to admit that, 12 months ago, his interest was starting to wane. He couldn’t even get a game for Whitby Town.
But, a year on, the 19-year-old forward - who this week collected the EFL Young Player of the Month award - could not be happier.
“It’s absolutely crazy,” admitted Mandeville, who scored five goals in five games last month.
“Last year I sort of fell out of love with the game really. I wasn’t enjoying it and I probably wasn’t as professional as I should’ve been.
“I was only 18, I wasn’t really getting in the team here because obviously it was difficult with it being League One. But I went out on loan and I wasn’t even playing at Whitby. I was going to start a game and then the manager got sacked!
“All that’s changed now obviously and it’s going really well.”
He added: “With the relegation and the loan I probably wasn’t as confident as I should be.
“But this season was a fresh start.
“Getting a new contract was a massive boost and I came in with the mentality that I could help the team get back into League One.
“Obviously I got my opportunity and I’ve been playing quite well. It’s all about confidence. Now I feel like I’m capable of starting games and affecting them.
“The injury to Willo [Andy Williams] meant I got my chance but getting dropped at Blackpool probably gave me that kick that I needed.
“Then I got another chance at Oldham and I thought I played quite well.
“Through November I just built on that confidence.”
With James Coppinger serving the first game of a three-match ban against Grimsby Town on Saturday, Mandeville could be asked to drop slightly deeper and fill in for Rovers’ long-serving skipper.
“I’m a striker but I’d like to think I know how to play that position, if that’s what the gaffer chooses to do,” he said.
“They’re big boots to fill,” he added. “Copps is an unbelievable player.
“I’ll do my best!”