At the top of the midfield tree - the Ex-Millwall man Portsmouth need in quest for goals

Shaun Williams has been highlighted as a player who can unlock defences as Pompey go in search of goals.

By Jordan Cross
Thursday, 27th January 2022, 12:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th January 2022, 1:45 pm

Danny Cowley believes the midfielder can offer the kind of bravery on the ball to unpick teams, as the Blues look to arrest their poor scoring run.

Pompey face Charlton on Monday looking to improve a dreadful recent run of scoring one goal in their past four league games, with four blanks in their past six League One fixtures.

Creativity has been a problem in that time, with both penetration and deliveries from wide areas below the level required.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

The stats show Williams to be one of the division’s more progressive midfield passers this term, however, as Cowley looks for solutions.

And Cowley is fully aware they are the kind of qualities his team need right now.

He said: ‘He’s a good player for us, Shaun.

‘He obviously comes with a wealth of experience.

Shaun Williams

‘In terms of spatial awareness he’s outstanding and can always find the first pass and he always seems to have a moment extra.

‘I think he’s done a great job for us.

‘It’s always about your angles of receiving and your body position to receive.

‘Then it’s your willingness to be brave enough to find those forward passes

‘It’s also the movement ahead of the ball. It’s the runs which dictate the passes.

‘He’s a good player who’s had a good career, he also looks after himself very well.

‘We try not to overuse him in a three-game week.

‘We’ve had to overuse in the first half of the season, though.

‘It was great to be able to freshen him up and we anticipate a really strong end to the season from him.’

Cowley is keeping a close eye on the stats as he looks for Pompey’s season to catch fire in the chase for a play-off berth.

He explained it’s not the volume of passes but the quality he assesses, as he looks to inform his decision making.

Cowley added: ‘We like our midfield players to pass forward.

‘I don’t look at how many passes they make, I look at how many players they play through.

‘Someone like Joe Morrell played through over 50 people (against MK Dons) and Shaun Williams is similar.

‘The stat is called packing - how many people you play through.

‘The flipside of that with our attackers is how many players they receive behind - that’s called pecking.

‘They are German stats which give you good information.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

Get 30 per cent off our sport subscription, which gives readers unlimited access to all our Pompey and grassroots coverage for just 9p a day, by using the promo code JanSports30. The deal expires at midnight on January 31.