Curle tells young players to put football first after McWilliams makes his return
Cobblers boss Keith Curle has told young players that their football must always come first after praising the return of midfielder Shaun McWilliams on Saturday.
Curle made the comments having been asked about McWilliams, who returned for his first appearance in almost a month when introduced as a second-half substitute during Saturday's 2-2 draw with relegated Yeovil Town.
The 20-year-old's recent absence from the team - he's started just one of Town's past 12 matches - has partly owed to a hamstring injury but it's nonetheless caused something of a stir among supporters given both his undoubted talent and also the team's poor form.
McWilliams impressed off the bench on Saturday though, catching the eye with his tough-tackling and range of passing in central midfield, and as a local boy who came through the club's youth ranks, Cobblers fans will be hoping to see more of him next season.
But that may well depend on how he conducts himself off the pitch as well as on it after Curle fired a warning shot to all young footballers who make it into the professional game.
"He came on and showed good energy, good willingness and good desire to get about the pitch," said the Town boss.
"He's a young player but he still needs to have the right foundations to his personality and to his professionalism.
"You get some young players that, as soon as they get the title of being a professional footballer, they collect the badges that go with it as in your new phones, your flashy trainers, your designer rucksacks.
"So they collect the badges but sometimes they lose sight of the fundamentals that are required to be professional footballer - hard work, dedication, working at your game.
"It's about spending time working on your game, understanding the game, understanding your strengths and weaknesses and looking to improve and develop.
"Sometimes players can not value those as much as what they do their fake toilet bags."
Asked if he was specifically referring to McWilliams with those comments, Curle responded: "He's a young player and part of the culture we're trying to create is a working, developing environment where players don't collect badges and instead spend time developing themselves."