The next six weeks promise, in every sense, to be a steep learning curve for Lloyd Isgrove.
Sheffield Wednesday’s new winger will get his first taste of the Championship at relegation-threatened Rotherham United this afternoon.
For Yeovil-born Isgrove, joining the Owls on loan until the end of the season from Southampton, the Premier League’s surprise package this season, is the next phase of his personal and professional development.
Isgrove, who has been on Saints’ books since the age of nine, told The Star: “I’ve never actually been this far up north. It’s a big challenge and test for me.”
Isgrove quipped: “I’ve got to get used to the Sheffield accent!”
The 22-year-old, who spent time on loan at League One side Peterborough United last term, scoring once in eight matches, is looking forward to sampling the South Yorkshire derby atmosphere.
He said: “I looked at the fixtures before I came here. My family want to come and down watch the game.
“I know it is a massive derby. There’s not many miles between the two clubs. It is a lot closer than Southampton and Portsmouth and I know how much of a massive derby that this is. Hopefully we can beat them.”
Before completing his temporary move to Hillsborough, Isgrove agreed a two-year contract extension at St Mary’s Stadium, tieing him to the club until 2017.
He said: “I wanted to get my contract sorted before going out on loan so I could just focus on my football.
“It’s a bit of security. It shows Southampton believe in my abilities. They want me on a two-year instead of doing the one-years that I’ve previously done before, which is only positive for me.”
A knee injury has hampered Ishgrove’s progress this season, restricting the winger to just four first-team appearances. His last Saints outing came in their FA Cup tie at home to Ipswich Town at the beginning of January.
Nonetheless, Isgrove remains confident he can force his way into Ronald Koeman’s long-term plans.
He said: “I definitely feel I can break in there at Southampton. Playing in the Championship will help me physically and get me match fit. I really feel this move is going to help me with my development.”
Ishgrove, primarily right-footed, accepts he may have to bide his time to demonstrate his capabilities in the top flight.
“There’s a lot of competition at Southampton,” said the former Wales Under-21 international. “We will have to see how it goes and see what happens next season.
“I will probably do pre-season with Southampton but, if I know I am not going to be involved with them, I will probably look at another loan move.”