SID Nelson has admitted his loan spell with Swindon has given him his confidence back.
Centre-back Nelson – who turned 23 on New Year's Day – has made 20 League Two appearances this season for the Robins, whose manager Richie Wellens wants him back to help with a potential play-off push.
Nelson injured his knee in his last game for Swindon against Exeter on his birthday, but has recovered as he looks to build on his 105 appearances in all competitions in senior football.
Nelson was signed for Swindon by Phil Brown, who was impressed with the defender's leadership qualities. Nelson was soon also impressing Robins fans with his fully committed displays, but then Brown was sacked in November.
Wellens, though, was also an admirer of Nelson, who feels his career is "going in the right direction".
"It was good to be part of a team where I played 25, 26 games in all competitions being that mainstay centre-half," Nelson told NewsAtDen after his return to Millwall. "There's something good going on at Swindon as well where we felt there was a play-off push in us. It was good to be a part of that compared to other loans I've had.
"I had a few other options last summer, but I spoke to Phil Brown who had come to a couple of games I was involved in last pre-season.
"He told me how he was going to work, how he wanted to play me, how he saw me fitting in. He wanted a centre-half that could lead from the back. He said he knew what I was about and what he would be getting. He told me to be myself. That attracted me compared to other clubs. I felt it was the right move.
"You don't want to see anyone leave, especially someone you've got a relationship with and you've been playing for.
"I just carried on and tried to impress the new manager. I like to think I have, I stayed in the team under him.
"When he came in he assessed things in training, changed some things and then had a few games where he decided who he wanted to play and who he didn't.
"I've played 105 games now. You get your confidence back, you're playing week-in, week-out, you feel good about yourself. You just know the game better.
"Everything's positive and going in the right direction for me, I know I'm getting better and better. If that's me staying here and learning and seeing where it takes me, or going back out on loan, we'll have to wait and see.
"I'm at this club at the moment but if it is to go back out to Swindon then great because I enjoyed my time there. I was playing every week and that's what I needed.
"I've had two seasons now at League Two, I know what it's about, the physicality of it."
The Swindon loan was the fourth of Nelson's career. When he was with Yeovil he had a difference of opinion with manager Darren Way, but he knew it wouldn't all be plain sailing and was never going to hold back from expressing an opinion.
He said: "One of the loans I was playing well every week and then you have a falling-out with the manager, that was a situation I'd never been in before. When we go on loan the gaffer [Neil Harris] tells us we've got to experience the ups and downs to come out better the other side.
"You've got to be yourself. That comes from your own character and personality. You shouldn't shy away from it, I've never shied away from it when I've been on loan.
"It has been good, all of the loans. I feel like every loan I've kicked on, gone up another step, another step. It's always nice to get praise based on the way you play. It's more the team performance, though, when the team is doing well everyone gets praised and it's not you don't.
"The gaffer came down to watch me, we spoke on the phone a few times, he was keeping me updated on how things were going. It's nice to get positive feedback.
"I feel like now I'm ready for first-team football, I know what it takes. If I do have to go back out again I know I can kick on."
Image: Millwall FC