Jay Williams will not be the last young Cobblers player to be handed an opportunity to impress by manager Keith Curle this season after the teenager’s cameos against Macclesfield Town and Crewe Alexandra.
The versatile Williams, who can play in either defence or midfield and caught the eye in both positions during his two appearances, is one of a number of young players that have come through the club’s youth system and are pushing for first-team appearances.
With academy graduate Shaun McWilliams now an established regular for Curle’s men, his brother Cam plus the likes of Sean Whaler, Morgan Roberts, Scott Pollock, Jack Daldy and Joe Iaciofano are among those to have featured in matchday squads this season.
Curle’s sole focus has so far been on turning around Town’s fortunes on the pitch but now that he’s well on the way to doing that, and with two cup fixtures coming up, there may be opportunities for several young players to stake their claim.
“I went to the youth team game on Tuesday and there’s a few other players that I think will get their opportunity before the season’s out,” said Curle, who named Iaciofano and Whaler alongside Williams in Saturday’s squad to face Crewe.
“There were another two, one definitely and also a second one, that might have been included on the bench on Saturday, so I’m very pleased with the youth setup and the structure that it’s in place.
I went to the youth team game on Tuesday and there’s a few other players that I think will get their opportunity before the season’s out.
“The new academy manager has come in as well and also the product on the pitch is very, very pleasing to the eye.”
Williams’ brief cameo on Saturday helped shore up Town’s defence and keep Crewe at bay as they registered just their fourth clean sheet of the season and third in eight games under Curle.
“It’s a foundation we want,” added the Cobblers boss. “We’re trying to win games and we know we’re a threat and have players in the team that can score goals, but the foundation we want is the work-rate that earns us a clean sheet.
“Walking off after the game, the team are very satisfied with a clean sheet and that gives us something to build on. That’s not just the defenders or the goalkeeper, that’s the midfield players and the striker who’ve all played their part.”