JOE SKARZ has welcomed the return to fitness of Robbie Williams – even though it could cost him his Town place.
Former Barnsley player Williams took another step on the recovery trail after a broken leg when Town drew 4-4 in a private practice match at Salford College yesterday.
While Williams completed the full 90 minutes on a synthetic surface, club captain Jon Worthington, who is making good progress after a groin operation, played for an hour against the students.
Galpharm boss Andy Ritchie believes both need another reserve match – Town play Leicester at Hinckley United a week tomorrow – before being considered for the senior side.
But by the time Town play in the FA Cup second round on Saturday week (Grimsby and Carlisle replay tonight for the right to come to the Galpharm) the duo should be in the selection frame.
While he can also play in midfield, Williams, 23, is primarily a left-back and played in that position for the reserves against West Brom last week.
Huddersfield-born Skarz and goalkeeper Matt Glennon are Town’s only ever-presents this season.
But the 18-year-old Academy product, who came out of nowhere to make his debut just over a year ago and hopes to play his 38th game at home to Leyton Orient in League I on Saturday, accepts his record will come under threat.
“I’ve been aware of it ever since Robbie signed for us (in August),” said Skarz, pictured, who has shown no after-effects of a nasty clash of heads with opponent Paul Anderson during Friday’s fine 1-0 win at Swansea.
“No player has a divine right to be in the side, and I know I will have to fight for my place, and that’s fine.
“I’m still young and I’m still learning, and Robbie has really helped me, because he is an experienced player and a really good bloke to have around the club.
“He’s been very supportive of me since he’s been here, passing on lots of tips and giving me lots of encouragement.”
l Town keeper Alex Smithies is hoping for his first England Under 18 cap against Ghana at Gillingham tonight.
Town will host Birmingham City in the third round of the FA Youth Cup if they can get through tomorrow’s second-round tie against Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park (7.00).
l Former Town loan defender Richard Keogh is set to join League I rivals and possible FA Cup opponents Carlisle in another temporary deal tomorrow.