Regan Poole certainly knows all about the ups and downs of football. Having come through at Newport County to play first-team football at the age of just 17, he was unexpectedly snapped up by Manchester United for £100,000, a dream move for any teenager.
Poole spent four years at Old Trafford but made only one senior appearance before joining MK Dons last summer.
His debut campaign in Milton Keynes hasn't quite gone according to plan for the newly-promoted club, who sacked their manager Paul Tisdale while languishing near the foot of League One. But under Russell Martin, MK Dons, and Poole, are back on an upswing.
"It's a club that wants to go in the right direction," Poole told Tribal Football. "It's a club that don't want to be in League One for long: they want to push on and go up the divisions.
"The season hasn't gone quite as planned, but we are looking OK at the moment, although it's been a bit of an up and down season. Hopefully next season we can push on and try to get up the league."
The turnaround under Martin has been dramatic. Following a 12-game winless run through the autumn MK Dons managed to win 24 points from their final 16 games before the suspension of the division.
"Everyone really gets on with the manager, and has taken to how he wants to play football. Everyone is happy at the moment, and I think that's why we will have a better season next year. Things are definitely on the up."
The 2019/20 campaign has seen highs and lows for Poole personally, too. He has struggled to become a mainstay in the first 11, and although he has no regrets about joining an ambitious club the 21-year-old is desperate to improve next year.
What makes Poole's situation unusual is that international recognition – he joined the Wales senior squad for the matches in October – may be holding back his club career.
"I've had a few international duties here and there, which has limited me to the amount of games I've played in the league. The international duties disrupted my rhythm a little bit, and coming back from Wales I had to work to get myself back into the team.
"When you're League One or Two and you go on international duty you miss one or two games. It's amazing to play on the international stage and nothing will stop me doing that, but hopefully next year I can come back and get back in the side. Next year I'd like to player 30 or 40 matches."
Poole also highlighted how much training with Wales' star players is improving his game.
"[Ryan] Giggs likes to give young players opportunities and every time I've worked with him he's given people a chance and they've improved massively."
There are perhaps moments, then, when excelling at such a young age has prevented Poole from playing as many senior games as he would like, but he remains optimistic about his future for both club and country.
"My aim is to get back to the Premier League," he said. "I want to try to play as high as I can and that's why I joined MK Dons: this is a club that can really push on. Playing for Wales will definitely help."
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