Change of routine has helped keep McWilliams injury free
Midfielder relieved to finally rack up the games for Cobblers
It has been a season of mixed feelings for Shaun McWilliams.
On a personal level, the young midfielder is just happy to be injury-free and finally showcasing his ability on a consistent basis.
Currently on 34 appearances, including starting each of the last 13, he has already played more games this season than in any other.
“I was actually speaking to Adam (Morton) the kitman the other day and saying that this season has been my first season injury-free,” said McWilliams. “I’ve been touching wood a lot!
“It’s nice to have played so many games and now I want to finish strongly. It’s a proud one for me because I have struggled with injury but doing the right things away from the pitch proves that I can stay fit.
“You need to understand your own body and what works for you. If that means coming in early and doing extra work in the gym, then that’s what you have to do.
“But that can also put more stress on your body and you might not be doing the right things so it’s all about finding a balance and I think I’m at the age now where I understand my body and I know what I need to do to stay on top of my game.
“I’m getting that balance right. I don’t want to jinx it but I think I’m doing the right things at the moment to stay fit.”
Playing regularly in League One makes it all the more impressive, but then there’s also the flip side to that and Cobblers’ ongoing battle to avoid relegation.
The 22-year-old added: “We’ve got good players in my position and that has pushed me on because I knew this season was a big year and I needed to stamp my authority on the team.
“I feel I’ve put in a few good performances and the more games you play, the more bonds you create and that makes it easier to play.
“It’s pleasing to play so many games in League One as well because of the quality but it’s also not ideal to have played a lot and be near the bottom of the division.
“But it is a tough league and anyone can beat anyone. We’re still in there fighting and we know we need to win our last two games.”
Whilst things look bleak for the Cobblers, McWilliams believes the clarity of the situation could be a blessing.
Town know they must beat both Blackpool and Sunderland to have any chance of surviving.
“The pressure is on the teams above us,” said the midfielder. “They know we’re chasing them and we know exactly what we need to do - win our next two games.
“I think that can be to our advantage. We’ve shown good home form recently and we want to continue that.
“There’s a lot of big clubs and good teams in the league this season and Blackpool are another one, but when people haven’t fancied us to get a result, we have shown we can beat teams near the top of the table.
“We’ve done that a few times this season and we will be looking to do it again on Saturday - I don’t see why we can’t take three points.”