Cobblers duo 'gutted' by long injury lay-off but Curle challenges them to come back 'fitter and stronger'
Shaun McWilliams and Harry Smith are both 'gutted' to be facing a long time out injured but manager Keith Curle has challenged to come back ‘fitter, faster and leaner’ than before.
The pair sustained their injuries within a few minutes of one another during the closing stages of Cobblers’ heavy 4-0 defeat away at Crawley Town on Boxing Day.
McWilliams was stretchered off after landing awkwardly on his knee and the stretcher then returned moments later with Smith in visible agony following a nasty fall on his ankle.
Both injuries looked serious at the time and Curle confirmed last week that they face around two to three months out, although he’s still waiting on a second opinion to get a more detailed timeframe.
“It’s obviously disappointing and I’ve had conversations with them both,” said Curle.
“It’s harsh but it’s part and parcel of this game that potentially you will get injured.
“And when you do get injured, it’s about accepting that challenge of getting yourself back fitter, stronger, faster and leaner than when you were when you got injured.”
The injuries have come at a cruel time for both men.
Youth graduate McWilliams is still only 21 and had been in fine form up until November when he was forced to undergo an appendix operation, ruling him out for a month.
He was just getting himself back up to match speed when he was struck down at Crawley and now faces more time in the treatment room.
Smith, meanwhile, overcame a slow start to his Cobblers career and had just joined Andy Williams and Sam Hoskins at the top of the scoring charts when netting a late equaliser at Mansfield, his sixth goal of the season.
“I spoke to Harry the other day and he was disappointed and gutted to now be out injured,” added Curle.
“But I asked whether or not he sees himself as a quick healer because that can be about lifestyle and how you look after yourself.
“He said he doesn’t get injured and that’s a good sign because now it’s something new for him to have a long-term injury and to accept that challenge and when he comes back he’s got to be firing.
“That means a lot of hard work ahead for both him and Shaun and also Pablo (Garcia), the strength and conditioning coach, and Ignacio (Herrando), the physio.
“Every day they’ll be in and they’ll be doing their programmes to get fit again because if your knee is injured, the rest of your body can still work.
“It’s the same with your ankle so it’s an opportunity to accept the challenge and make sure when they do come back, they come back fitter, stronger and leaner than before.”