Swindon Town loanee Joe Tomlinson has been named EFL Young Player of the Month after an impressive start to life in Sky Bet League Two.
The talented left-back arrived at the County Ground to assist their push for promotion, helping Swindon maintain a Play-Off place during the month of February.
“It’s a brilliant feeling,” Tomlinson says. “A lot of big names have won it in the past, so it’s a very proud moment for myself and my family. To get the recognition for my performances in February is brilliant.
“I came here on loan to play and enjoy my football and to develop and learn. The Manager put his trust in me straight away and that’s all I can ask for. I believed in myself and I knew my capabilities. I knew that if I came here and got game time, I could really have an impact on the team and I was very pleased to do that in my first month here.
“Defenders don’t get too many mentions for awards around the world, so to be recognised for this award across 72 Clubs was a nice surprise and great honour. It’s a fantastic award to win and I’m very grateful for it.”
The Peterborough United full-back was sent on a temporary switch at the end of the January transfer window and made an instant impact for the Robins, contributing with three assists and a goal in six outings in February.
“I’m very good at going forward, so I knew I could make an impact in that way,” he continues. “I scored on my debut, which was nice. It wasn’t the result we wanted, but it was a good performance from myself.
“It’s my first experience of League Two and that first game gave me the confidence to push on and keep getting better every game. We had some big wins away at Carlisle and at home to Scunthorpe and Walsall – the whole month in general was very positive for me.
“My numbers are pretty good for a full-back. Hopefully, I can keep that going. Across world football, full-backs have to contribute massively now with goals and assists. It’s definitely a part of the game that is a strength of mine and I’m very happy with the stats so far.”
It’s not just the attacking side of the game where Tomlinson impressed, though, making 11 clearances and nine tackles to help Swindon keep three clean sheets during the month.
“One of the big reasons I came here was because I know I need to improve my defensive work and the Manager has been brilliant with me,” he admits. “We have a very good defensive setup at Swindon.
“I’ve been able to get forward but I’m also aware of the job I have to do at the back in terms of keeping clean sheets. Three clean sheets in a month is very good and we’re very pleased as a defensive unit.
“I’ve definitely improved in 1v1 situations and I’ve learned a lot about my defensive positioning. Playing against very good and established League players has been very good for me. It’s been very enjoyable so far.”
Tomlinson may be inexperienced in the EFL, but he has amassed a significant number of appearances in men’s football during three seasons in non-league prior to his move to Peterborough.
After scoring 12 goals during the 2020/21 campaign for National League outfit Eastleigh – and being named the Club’s Player of the Year – the Posh swooped for the 21-year-old last summer. But having appeared just five times in the Sky Bet Championship since arriving at the Weston Homes Stadium, Tomlinson was keen for more regular action.
He adds: “I’ve had a season on loan at Bognor Regis, another year at Hungerford Town, where I was captain in the Conference South at 19, and then I went to Eastleigh.
“Making my debut in the Championship and playing a few games was a fantastic experience and I learned a lot from that. However, at my age, I know I need regular football. I was learning a lot at Peterborough, but I felt that to continue to develop even more, I had to come to League Two.
“Coming from a team that’s two leagues above, you’re expected to come in and do really well by the Club and the fans. I’ve embraced the pressure and I believe that I’m good enough to be able to perform at that level.”
Following his spectacular start, Tomlinson unfortunately suffered an injury which has kept him on the sidelines throughout March. However, with a return on the horizon, he is now setting his sights on a successful end to the season.
“We’re very confident in our changing room,” says the talented defender. “We know we have the ability to go up. We know that if we play the way we’re capable of, we can beat anyone in this league on our day. All we can do is worry about ourselves and I believe we will go up.
“It’s been very frustrating to be out this month, but hopefully I’ll be back shortly and have another big impact before the end of the season.
“Going up is the number one target, but alongside that, on a personal level, I want to continue to add goals and assists and help the team keep clean sheets. I want to enjoy this experience, keep improving every week and hopefully it will lead to promotion.”