I CAUGHT up with one of Coulson’s old centre-half mentors, Wayne Hatswell, and the current Newport County coach’s gaffer, Justin Edinburgh, this week.
Both Conference stalwarts informed me of some startling developments in the career of another of Cambridge’s youth system graduates, Robbie Willmott.
The first time I saw Willmott was when Gary Brabin played him at centre forward in a pre-season friendly with Everton, and the 18-year-old gave England’s current first-choice centre-half Phil Jagielka the runaround.
U’s and Luton fans who saw him excite and frustrate in equal measure over four-and-a-half seasons in Non-League’s top-flight before joining Newport for the successful second half to last term will be surprised to learn that Willmott is reinventing himself – as a left-wing-back!
“We’ve had injuries, for sure, but Robbie has been superb for us,” said Edinburgh, whose side are three points off the top of League Two in their first season up and mounting a promotion push.
“Andy Sandell got injured so we put Robbie in there three months ago. He’s had our club player of the month award and been part of a defence that kept five clean sheets in a row up to last Sunday.
“He’s defending like his life depends on it, intercepting, tackling and reading the game like people have never seen him before – he just doesn’t get beaten.”
The man who spent ten years playing left full-back in the Premier League with Tottenham may say “He’s got the best teacher though, hasn’t he?” with a laugh, but I’m being serious.
As a future League One (or higher) left-back, we could see the 23-year-old pull off a Conference-to-League position transition to rival goalkeeper/defender Matt Taylor and winger/centre-half Nat Knight-Percival before him!