“I probably would have laughed at you,” Luke Jephcott says when asked if he thought he would ever be named the EFL’s Young Player of the Month when he was sent off on loan to seventh-tier Truro City in August.
But just three days after playing in front of 651 people at Weston-super-Mare he was back on the League Two scene, scoring goals and ending up winning the division’s player of the month award for January.
The 20-year-old scored five goals in five games last month on his return to the Plymouth side, a run of form that coincided with an upturn in Argyle’s results that has seen them move within striking distance of the League Two promotion places.
But it all seemed so different when the Wales Under-19 international returned from his summer break and failed to impress new manager Ryan Lowe.
“I didn’t come back in the best shape in pre-season,” Jephcott told BBC Sport.
“He (Lowe) just said ‘I want you to go away, get fitter, get stronger, score some goals and then come back and do the same here’.”
And that is exactly what Jephcott did, scoring five times in 18 appearances for the Southern League Premier Division South side, who are managed by former Argyle assistant manager and captain Paul Wotton.
“I was a bit gutted to start off with as I wanted to get straight back into the season and be in the squad,” Jephcott said of his move to Truro, which is just a short trip from his family’s home in Falmouth.
“But that loan was something that I needed to get my confidence up, to get my match fitness up, to go away and score goals there and bring it back here and do the same.”
‘He never had a chance as a number nine’
“We knew Luke was a finisher, we knew he was a goalscorer,” added Lowe, who took over as Argyle manager last summer.
“He never had a chance as a number nine. He used to play on the left or the right in the old regime, but that isn’t his position as he’s not rapidly fast.
“His position is getting in good areas. His movement’s very good, he’ll go in to come out, he’ll know if the defender’s there and come across him.
“But the kid’s finishing ability and being in the right place at the right time, and being able to know when to run and when not to run, is his biggest asset for me.”
That asset took just 12 minutes to pay off as Jephcott scored in the opening stages of his first game after returning from Truro in a 3-1 win at Scunthorpe on 4 January.
It then paid off again in the second half, and Jephcott backed it up with two more goals at Carlisle United seven days later.
He recalled: “I was glad to be told that I was starting, and when I scored my first goal it was like ‘I can’t believe I’ve just scored’ and then when I went and scored my second I was like ‘what’s going on?’
“I couldn’t believe that I’d gone and scored two goals in League Two on my first game back.”
Despite growing up in Cornwall, Jephcott very proudly sees himself as Welsh.
Born in Aberystwyth, his family moved to the West Country when he was five and he joined the Argyle academy as a 15-year-old after time at local sides Wendron United and Helston Athletic.
He has been capped 10 times at under-19 level for Wales and now has sights on breaking into the under-21 side.
“Hopefully at the end of the season I can be involved in a training camp,” he said.
“Some of the people I was with at under-19s are now up in the under-21s, so if they can do it I can do it as well.
“I’ve just got to keep making them aware by performing here and keep scoring goals.”
And if he can help a promotion push for the Pilgrims, who knows where Jephcott’s goals could take him – or Plymouth Argyle.