, Exclusive: Tom Carroll opens up on ‘tough’ time before Exeter City move and possible coaching future

Exclusive: Tom Carroll opens up on ‘tough’ time before Exeter City move and possible coaching future

Exeter City added Tom Carroll to their ranks in July 2023, offering the midfielder a return to the game after a little over a year without a club.

Tom Carroll has had plenty of highs and lows over the course of his career. The Exeter City man started out in the Tottenham Hotspur academy, breaking into the first-team at White Hart Lane while also gaining experience out on loan.

The earlier years of his career were with Spurs, managing three goals and five assists in 56 games while maintaining his place as a regular in the England U21s setup.

Carroll was arguably at the peak of his powers after leaving North London though, joining Swansea City in 2017 after a loan there a couple of seasons prior. He would play 103 times for the Swans – the most he has managed for a single club to date.

, Exclusive: Tom Carroll opens up on ‘tough’ time before Exeter City move and possible coaching future
Image courtesy of: REUTERS STAFF/REUTERS.

He departed the South Wales outfit in 2020, and there have been challenging moments since.

Spells at QPR and Ipswich Town were hampered by injury and Carroll left the latter in 2022. It would be a year out of the game before he returned, joining Exeter City in League One. It was a challenging 12 months too, but the midfielder is proud to have proven doubters wrong in his comeback.

“It was tough being out the game for a year,” Tom Carroll told SkyBet, exclusively on behalf of The72.

“I went back to Tottenham during that period, training with the U23s, staying fit and feeling good, which gave me the confidence to get back into football properly and crack on really.

“It’s hard being out, but football is an unforgiving game. I don’t think people thought I was fit or could run around anymore, so it’s been good to prove people wrong.”

It’s been more than just a return to a club for Carroll though. The 31-year-old has become a mainstay for Gary Caldwell, playing 39 times across all competitions and starting in all but one third-tier game since Boxing Day.

, Exclusive: Tom Carroll opens up on ‘tough’ time before Exeter City move and possible coaching future
Image courtesy of: ANDREW COULDRIDGE/REUTERS.

His tally to date marks the most appearances he’s made in a single season since the 2017/18 campaign with Swansea. And, he’s keen to end on a high with Exeter City 11 points clear of the drop and 15th in the League One table.

“I feel great from playing regularly. Since Christmas, I felt the best I ever have so it’s been good, and I feel strong.

“As a team, we want to finish the season as strong as possible. We’ve just come off the back of a seven-point week before the international break, so we’ve got ourselves in a good position to go and try and get as many points as possible on the board in the last seven games of the season.”

At 31, Watford-born Carroll will be hoping to enjoy some more successful seasons on the pitch. However, he’s among the Grecians currently working through a UEFA B license with a view to coaching once his playing days are done.

“I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great managers throughout my career. I’m currently working on my UEFA B license with some of the boys at Exeter, so it’s something that I take an interest in, and I wanted to see if I enjoy it and if I feel like I could do it in the future.”

No mean feat

When players hampered by injury spend spells out of the game, they often struggle to return to regular football at a good level. Carroll has done brilliantly to endure the rigours of the League One campaign to date though, especially given how little consistent football he had played in the few seasons prior.

Time will tell just what the coming years bring the Exeter man. His move to work towards a coaching license suggests he may well stay in the game once his playing days come to an end.

Until then though, the midfielder and the Grecians will be hoping to end the season in impressive fashion. It would round out a pretty turbulent campaign for the Devon outfit but on an individual level, it’s one Tom Carroll should be proud of when it comes to a close.

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