Keith Curle: Why I moved Shaun McWilliams into new attacking role

Shaun McWilliams' ability to win back possession high up the pitch was the chief reason behind Keith Curle's decision to move him into a more attacking role this season.

Saturday, 28th September 2019, 8:37 am
Shaun McWillians could barely contain his excitement after scoring on Saturday.

The 21-year-old played at right-back and central midfield earlier in the campaign but his best performances have come in a more advanced role behind striker Andy Williams.

He first played in the position during the 2-0 win over Newport County before doing likewise against Stevenage, which was followed by a man of the match, goalscoring display at home to Crawley Town on Saturday.

On what prompted him to move McWilliams further forward, Curle explained: "If you put him man to man against anybody, physically he won't get outrun by anybody.

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"What we're trying to do is use that physical work as more of a benefit to the team and give us more of an attacking option and an attacking threat.

"That's something which Shaun has picked up on because there's things he can do, such as winning the ball back - he's probably one of the best in the division at regaining possession.

"But we need to regain the ball and then quickly turn that into our advantage by him retaining possession, giving the ball to one of our players and then getting forward.

"Because if you're going to mark Shaun McWilliams, you're going to cover some distance. Then it's about getting the quality - can we get a cross? Can we get into the final third? Can we get a finish? Can we get an assist?

"As an attacking midfield player, how I see Shauny, his determination to get the ball back is excellent and now can we get him into the final third and get quality out of him?"

McWilliams' tireless running caused problems all afternoon for Crawley on Saturday and it could well be a position that he makes his own this season.

"There are players emerging this season and an example of that is Shaun's performance on Saturday," added Curle. "Not only scoring the goal but getting on the front foot and operating in and around the opposition's final third.

"I think he got forward and put a couple of crosses in and now we need to get people on the end of it. Goals, assists, regains - it's all part of an attacking midfielder's armoury.

"That's something we've been working on with him and also creating goalscoring opportunities for himself and that's a pleasing element because Shauny has got that in him. We just need that little bit more quality in the final third."