'I have to earn anything I get'
Joe Rodon had to roll his sleeves up for various battles in League Two last season.
Now the young Swansea City defender is relishing the next fight on his hands.
Rodon is a local lad who has been at the Swans since he was a kid.
The dream is to play senior football for the club where he has grown up, and he is edging closer to making it happen.
Rodon has been on the first-team radar for a while, having travelled with the senior squad in pre-season as far back as 2016, when Francesco Guidolin was at the helm.
Since Graham Potter was appointed in the summer, he has spent every day training with the new manager’s senior squad.
And he feels more equipped to compete having spent time on loan at Cheltenham Town in the second half of 2017-18.
Rodon got a first taste of senior football while with the Robins, playing 12 games for Gary Johnson’s side.
“Cheltenham was a massive opportunity and a great experience for me,” he says.
“League Two is a very physical league and that’s something I had to learn for myself. Hopefully that experience will help me grow as a player on and off the pitch.
“Playing in League Two was a massive difference from under-23 football.
“There’s the physical side of the game and also the transitions. These players are fighting for their jobs and they have to stay in the league.
“It was great for me to go and experience that and I hope the loan will help me. I need some experience because it’s very difficult to jump from the under-23s to the first team.
“The more experience you can get, going on loan and getting games under your belt, the better you become as a player. Hopefully I can learn more.”
Just like his Swans team-mates, Rodon is learning every day under Potter.
This year’s pre-season is not a particularly long one, hence the new manager has pointed out that every minute counts as he looks to make his mark on the squad.
He has made a good impression on Morriston-product Rodon, who was captain of the Swans’ under-23 side prior to the Cheltenham move.
“Since the first day the manager has tried to implement his ideas and get his message across to us,” Rodon adds.
“I think everyone is buying into it and we are just trying to learn what he wants from us every day.”
Rodon has featured in three of the Swans’ pre-season games to date, against Yeovil Town, Newport and FC Magdeburg.
He was part of a youthful defence who ground out a clean sheet in a goalless draw against German second-tier club Magdeburg, who beat Serie A side Genoa later in the day to win the tournament they hosted.
“It’s a great test coming out here and playing against top sides,” Rodon says.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity the gaffer has given me. It was nice to get a clean sheet even though it was disappointing to lose out in the penalty shootout, but I am sure we can take a lot from the game.”
And so the focus switches to the Swans’ two remaining pre-season outings, against Eibar on Tuesday and SC Freiburg on Friday.
Rodon will hope for at least one more opportunity to prove that he can play a part under Potter in the Championship this season.
“I can’t rely on anything,” he says.
“Obviously it would be a dream for me to play for the first team.
“I will take it step by step. I will enjoy my time with first team in pre-season and then see how things go, but I’ve got to earn anything I get myself.”