RICHIE Wellens knows Lloyd Isgrove is capable of playing better than his current form suggests, but insists the winger’s fitness levels must improve in order for his maximum potential to be reached.

Isgrove, 27, has started in all five games Town have played since the turn of the year and has been a key member of Wellens’ squad amid their push for promotion into League One at the third time of asking.

The pocket-sized midfielder perhaps hasn’t caught the eye as gracefully as he did at the start of the season.

Despite this, he was still involved in the build-up play to all three of Town’s goals against Port Vale on Saturday – underlining the importance of his presence in the matchday squad.

Explaining why Isgrove has rarely played a full 90 minutes in recent weeks, Wellens said: “I’m not happy with Lloyd Isgrove’s form at the moment.

“He needs to get fitness in his legs – that’s why he isn’t at his best at the moment.

“He shows his best in glimpses, so long as he is in a half decent defensive position he can affect the game.

“He can give us those six or seven moments of quality in each game, and I’m happy with that. But I need to get his fitness up.

“There is no point me putting him on the bench and giving him 10 minutes each game, how is he ever going to get fit? You can work all you want in training and do all the running you like, but a match is totally different.”

Wellens offered no clues with regards to the likelihood of Isgrove appearing in his starting XI for Tuesday night’s trip to Colchester.

However, the 39-year-old stated that he wants the Southampton academy graduate to work at his maximum rate towards the end of his shift to build and sustain high levels of fitness.

Wellens added: “I’m hoping he will be back to normal for our next game (Colchester). We were three goals up against Port Vale and he was looking at me asking why I wanted him to sprint.

“I wanted him to close the ball down and work for five minutes until he reaches total exhaustion. You don’t get fit by reaching your comfort zone and stopping, you get fit by pushing yourself and reaching your maximum.”