Former Swindon Town head coach Ben Garner said that allowing Harry McKirdy to be himself was the key to managing the 26-year-old.

Garner managed McKirdy during the 2021/22 season as the forward achieved career highs for both goals and assists, netting 20 goals and adding a further eight assists, on route to being named in the League Two Team of the Season.

In his career without Garner, McKirdy has managed a total of 12 league goals and six assists.

Speaking to BBC Wiltshire ahead of McKirdy making his second debut for Town against Newport County, the former Charlton Athletic boss explained how he managed to coax the best out of McKirdy.

He said: “I think that it [McKirdy coming back] should be a good fit for both parties, both for Harry himself and for Swindon.

“Harry has had a setback this season in terms of his health and his fitness and he just needs to get back to playing and enjoying his football.

“I managed to catch up with him and he just wants to get back playing and have a smile back on his face and that is how you get the best out of Harry.

“He is a great guy and I think he is misunderstood in a lot of ways, for me he was great to work with, he is very intense, wants to do well, and wants to win.

“But he is a different character, and you have to manage that, my way of doing it was to make sure he was in line with the team values and what we wanted but also make it really clear that he could be himself.

“I wanted him to feel confident dressing how he dresses and showing his full personality.”

Gavin Gunning, who now has the task of emulating Garner’s success, said that he was excited to get to work with McKirdy and believes they will have a good relationship.

“He [McKirdy] is a maverick,” He said, “And I am a big character as well so it will be fine.

“I am sure that he will like the other lads, he has a fantastic attitude, he’s a maverick and we don’t mind that we want him to be free and express himself and all of those things.

“He went to Hibs and whatever happened with the manager there, it is unfortunate, but it’s going to be fine here, I think he will do really well again.”