Growth of Sercombe proves worth of City sticking with youth
Liam Sercombe seems to have been around forever. In fact, it is hard to believe that the Exeter City midfielder is still only 23.
It is six years since he made his debut as a fresh-faced, but much-hyped teenager at Altrincham. But, in that time, Sercombe has grown into a man both on and off the football pitch.
Now, he is one of the first names on manager Paul Tisdale's team-sheet. He has amassed almost 200 appearances for his home-town club and is showing signs of becoming the complete midfielder he promised to be in his youth, underlined by one of his most mature and complete performances in last week's 2-1 win at Northampton Town.
"I felt I did well and I don't think I would have performed very well in that type of game when I was younger," Sercombe said. "But I have learnt the other side of the game and it makes you a more complete kind of player.
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"When I was younger, Tis may not have played me in that game, but I have learnt my game, everyone learns when they are younger, and it's the same with Grimesy [Matt Grimes] right now, he has to learn to play a different type of game.
"Tis knows that I have learnt, they are not nice games to play in, obviously, you spend most of the game looking in the air and watching the ball go over and back and running backwards and forwards all the time. But you get a lot of those types of games in this league. You have to do, it though, and hopefully we can get out of this league as quickly as possible and get into League One."
That, of course, is the aim of everyone at St James' Park this season, after City threatened to do just that last campaign. They tailed off badly following a shocking end of the season and a push for automatic promotion ultimately ended up in a mid-table finish for Tisdale's men.
Sercombe missed the second half of that season, but is back fitter than ever now and is making up for lost time. To use a cliche, it is like having a new signing in the ranks.
"There were a lot of people that doubted us going in to the season and weren't too sure how well we'd do, but we have started off well," he said. "Now we are going into the game on Saturday [against Newport County] looking to get our fourth home win on the bounce, so hopefully that happens. Everyone is pleased with the start we have had.
"Last year, we were better away from home and hopefully, we can improve at home and get more wins and continue with the away form we showed last year.
"It will be a tough game on Saturday, but we are all confident we can put that to one side and get the three points."
Confidence is good in the camp with Exeter riding high in fourth and the dramatic nature of last week's stoppage time with at Sixfields has merely added to the belief within the squad.
"We definitely would have taken four points before the two away games, so we are happy with how things are going," Sercombe said.
"Everyone was buzzing in the changing room afterwards, more so than in any other win we have had this year.
"It meant a lot because we were on the back foot. So to nick a win was great because, if they had scored a second goal, it would have been really hard for us to get back into the game. But we held on and defended well, luckily we scored and, when Flynny [John O'Flynn] scored, everyone was going crazy, even in the changing room afterwards."
Sercombe added: "Two teams are a point ahead of us at the moment and then there's Chesterfield, who are running away with it a bit. But we just have to take each game as it comes.
"I am confident about this year, I think we can at least make the play-offs or hopefully even get into the automatic places."