It’s not difficult to see why Jay Williams has won so many admirers on his pathway to the Cobblers first team.
The 18-year-old has led the charge of Town’s next generation this season and was duly rewarded for his hard work when, on Tuesday afternoon, confirmation came of his first professional contract, putting pen to paper on an 18-month deal with the club.
A an hour or so later, he was named in the side for the Checkatrade Trophy clash with Bristol Rovers, his second successive start for the first team and eighth appearance in all this season.
It’s clear Keith Curle thinks highly of him and his performances illustrate why.
While he will naturally blow hot and cold as a young player, he boasts all the attributes that hint of a bright future.
They were on display against Rovers when he showed strength that belies his slender frame and composure that makes a mockery of his tender age.
“I think in the first half I did all right but in the second half I wasn’t really in the game as much,” said the teenager. “I had more of a defensive role to try to keep them at bay and let other players do the attacking.
“It was more of a conservative role so I didn’t make as many runs, but in the end it’s about the result and we didn’t get it so I’m disappointed.”
Williams joined fellow academy graduate Camron McWilliams in signing an 18-month deal with the Cobblers as the club look to tie up their impressive crop of young players.
“It’s always a dream as a kid to sign a professional contract but, when you get to this position, you have to keep working hard and you can’t stop,” Williams said.
“If you stop, the dream will go away so I’m going to keep working hard and look to keep my performances up. I’m proud to play for my home town.
“I grew up here and I watched them when I was younger so it’s great to make it out onto the pitch.”
A former student at Kingsthorpe College, Williams won admirers for his performances at centre-back for the youth side, but it’s in midfield where he has predominantly played since being brought in by Curle.
He continued: “It’s always a good thing to be able to play in more than one position and if the manager tells me to play somewhere, I’m going to give it my all for the fans and for the club.
“I don’t really have a preference. I’m getting more used to playing in midfield, but if the gaffer says he wants me in defence, I’ll play there, and if he wants me in midfield, I’ll play there.
“I get advice off everyone. I’ve been playing next to Sam Foley in midfield and he helps a lot, as does Aaron Pierre when I play at the back.
“It’s going really well at the moment but I take every day as it comes.
“Hopefully I stay in the team and make more appearances this season.”
And he will be hoping the next one comes on Saturday afternoon when Town entertain Carlisle United in Sky Bet League Two (ko 3pm).