Homegrown midfield pair catch Curle's eye during Cambridge victory
Young homegrown midfielders Shaun McWilliams and Scott Pollock were both singled out for praise by manager Keith Curle after Tuesday’s victory over Cambridge United in the EFL Trophy.
McWilliams made his 14th successive start in all competitions for the EFL Trophy tie at the Abbey Stadium while Pollock was in for his third appearance of the season.
Both players have emerged through the club’s youth system, albeit via different paths, and whilst McWilliams has very much established himself in the first-team, Pollock is not far behind.
The 18-year-old broke into Curle’s starting XI towards the end of last season and although he’s had to be patient for game-time this term, his performance on Tuesday was, as Curle described afterwards, ‘a gentle reminder of what he’s all about’.
With the typically hard-working, hard-tackling McWilliams sweeping up play behind him, Pollock’s first thought was always to play forward and his purposeful, incisive passing gave Cobblers control in the first-half.
He faded a little in the second 45 minutes but it was still an impressive display from the teenager and Curle was clearly impressed with both of his young midfielders afterwards.
He said: “One’s a player, one’s a rat! But they’re both elements that as a player you need to have and as a team you need to have.
“You need have that energy, that willingness and then you need the composure to go and get on the ball, and I think both of them can improve on the other one’s aspect of the game.
“Shauny McWilliams has great tenacity and great willingness and effort to get the ball back, but he can be a little bit better on the ball.
“Scotty Pollock can handle a ball, can see a pass, can deliver a pass and he’s also got a range of passing.
“He needs to be a little bit stronger and a little bit more aggressive out of possession but that’s part of their development and part of their learning that something we’re pleased to be part of.”
Jordan Turnbull was also impressed with Town's contingent of young players on Tuesday, including second-half substitute Morgan Roberts.
"I thought Shaun McWilliams and Scott Pollock were fantastic," he said. "We passed the ball around quite well during the game and those two were pivotal in that.
"Then Morgs coming on at the end gave us attacking threat and work-rate down the wing so it was a brilliant night for them."