McWilliams out to win back his midfield place after return from appendix operation
Cobblers midfielder Shaun McWilliams admitted his return to first-team action came sooner than he expected after he made the starting line-up against Portsmouth on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old was expected to miss around six weeks after he underwent an appendix operation on the day of last month’s 2-2 draw at Oldham.
But just a month on from coming out of hospital, McWilliams returned to the pitch and played 51 minutes in midweek as the Cobblers were beaten 2-1 in the second round of the Leasing.com Trophy.
“I’m pleased to be back,” he said afterwards. “I’ve had a few weeks out and it’s nice playing again.
“It’s a bit earlier than I thought but I’m happy to get the minutes in.
“We initially thought it would be about six weeks but I took to the recovery well and I was quickly back into training.
“The physio and the sports scientist have been pushing me and I reacted well in training and now here I am playing.
“There was no reaction so that’s why I returned quicker than we thought.”
Discussing his absence, the homegrown youngster explained: “I went to hospital as a precaution (before the Oldham game) and I ended up having my appendix out later that day so that’s why I’ve not played for a few weeks.
“I’ve not had any reaction to the operation though and it’s all fine now. I was pleased to get 50 minutes under my belt on Tuesday - that was the main thing.”
McWilliams was in terrific form at the time of his operation but he now faces a fight to win back his place in central midfield with experienced duo Alan McCormack and Chris Lines currently in the way, not to mention the fit-again Ryan Watson.
However, for now, he’s just happy to be back on the pitch.
“I’ll take any minutes I can get at this point in time," he added.
“I’ve obviously only just come back so I might not be knocking on the door any time soon but I’ll take it as it comes and we’ll go into the weekend with momentum and hopefully we can get the three points.”
The Cobblers dominated the first 20 minutes at Fratton Park on Tuesday but they couldn’t build on Michael Harriman’s goal as League One Pompey fought back.
Leon Maloney and Marcus Harness struck either side of half-time to take holders Portsmouth into the third round, leaving the Cobblers to focus on Saturday’s important league game at Exeter City.
“You’re going to have periods in the game when you’re on the back foot but I think we also had spells when we controlled the play,” McWilliams continued.
“We maybe could have created a few more chances in the second-half because we had a fair bit of the ball and we could have got something out of the game.
“It’s obviously disappointing not to continue our run and get into the next round but we’re on a good roll in the league and we want to carry that on Saturday.”