'Adaptable' McWilliams wants to add another string to his bow

Shaun McWilliams’ evolution as a player might be about to enter its next phase.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The 24-year-old has come a long way from the tough-tackling, hard-running midfielder that broke onto the scene as a teenager in 2017.

He still loves a tackle and will run all day but McWilliams has improved immeasurably on the ball over the last 18 months, particularly under Jon Brady’s guidance. He’s more assertive in possession and often provides impetus from central midfield with his ability to drive forward with the ball.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The only thing left to become an all-round midfielder is to add goals to his game; his recent winner at Stevenage was only his second for the club.

Shaun McWilliamsShaun McWilliams
Shaun McWilliams

Against Gillingham last Saturday, it was noticeable how often McWilliams broke into the penalty box. He twice went close to scoring, first denied by Glenn Morris and then screwing wide from a tight angle.

"I like to think I can be adaptable and I think the gaffer had a few ideas he wanted to implement for the game at Gillingham and that was one of them – for me to break forward,” revealed the Northampton-born midfielder.

"When the ball went down the sides, sometimes as midfielders you need to get up there and take a gamble on it and then make sure you get back.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I had been coming back from injury but now I feel back up to full match fitness and I was able to break forward a bit more.

"I enjoyed the goal at Stevenage so I wouldn't mind scoring one or two more!”

McWilliams was not the only player to play with more freedom at Priestfield as Cobblers regained their sharpness in attack, something they will need again against Bradford this weekend.

"We had a game plan to free ourselves up a bit more,” said McWilliams. “We had a meeting in the week with the gaffer about what he wanted to do and in the first-half especially we created a few chances.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Coming away with three points was massive and I thought we played well and there was an enjoyment among the players.

"I probably should have scored myself and we might have scored more on another day but it was a good performance and a big result and now we have momentum.

"It's been nice to go into this week on the back of a win and it's going to be a big one at Bradford on Saturday.”

It will be interesting to see what role McWilliams plays at Valley Parade this weekend where fourth hosts third in Sky Bet League Two.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Bradford are going well under Mark Hughes and will leapfrog their visitors into third with a win, but Brady's Cobblers are rarely a team that takes a backward steps regardless of opposition or circumstances.

"It's tight up there at the minute but we aren't looking at what's behind us,” McWilliams continued.

"You have to go into every game aiming for three points because one or two results can flip the whole table around so it's important we continue the momentum.

"It's a tough place to go, a big stadium and lots of fans, but you have to rise to the occasion and we are going there with full confidence and we will try and get another win.

"As a footballer you want to play at the big stadiums so it'll be good. We have been there a few times and come away with some positive results. It should be a good one.”