James Furlong could not have anticipated the highs and lows of his first two months of sustained first-team experience but the 20-year-old feels his Motherwell loan experience has been a major help in his development.
The Brighton player has been part of a team suffering their worst and best runs of form this season, played in two different systems under two different managers, and won his first call-up for the Republic of Ireland Under-21s.
The left-back had played one game each for Shamrock Rovers and Brighton before joining Motherwell in late January and was immediately thrust into action.
The man who signed him, Steven Hammell, lost his job after a Scottish Cup shock against Raith Rovers but a Motherwell side strengthened by an influx of January signings have thrived under Stuart Kettlewell.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s cinch Premiership clash with Hibernian at Easter Road, Furlong said: “It’s been huge for me. Coming in and then a week later there was a change of manager. Getting that experience of coming into things and things changing again.
“It was a little bit hard but in football there are always changes and you just have to get on with it and focus on yourself and the team. If the team is together, there are no issues if there are changes.
“There are highs and lows throughout everyone’s career and every team’s career, so it’s just about managing them when each one comes.
“That’s what we have done, we have managed through the hard part and now it’s just about trying to maintain our standards.
“Each game presents a different challenge, whether it’s a team lower down or a team higher up, it’s really good exposure for me.
“I have really enjoyed it. I think I have settled in really well and I am enjoying it and hopefully that will continue.
“When I came in we were sort of struggling and then we brought in a couple of players and found a formation that has really suited us.
“It started to show on the pitch and hopefully we can continue that and finish the season strongly.
“It was important for me to get a taste of men’s football and hopefully I can keep playing.”
Furlong did not feature for his international side in their friendly against Iceland but was delighted to get recognition after featuring at younger age groups.
“I wanted to be in that for a while so to get that call-up was really good and I enjoyed the last week,” he said.
“Hopefully I get more call-ups in the future. I love playing for Ireland and the club as well so to be able to play for Ireland and for people to recognise that progression is really good to see.”