Nigel Pearson on the ‘infectious’ Bristol City midfielder who had positive influence against Middlesbrough

Joe Williams put in a solid display for Bristol City against Middlesbrough in what was an unfamiliar role to his usual midfield position

<p>Joe Williams continued his return to action with a solid shift against Middlesbrough. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)</p>

Joe Williams continued his return to action with a solid shift against Middlesbrough. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Bristol City head coach Nigel Pearson has leapt praise on Joe Williams for the performance he delivered in the 2-1 win over Middlesbrough.

The 25-year-old was making his first start since November after overcoming a number of injury problems and played 80 minutes before being substituted for Robbie Cundy.

Williams at times played in the unfamiliar role as centre-back, supporting both Timm Klose and Tomas Kalas, but also provided cover in the midfield for Alex Scott and Han-Noah Massengo.

The aforementioned youthful pair have went a few weeks where they have had to continue without some guidance from an experienced head but with Williams back available, he brought some solidity to the side.

Asked about where he saw his role today, Pearson said: “It was a front sweeper. Whether you see it as a front sweeper or part of a back five, it doesn’t matter. However you see it, it is what it is.

“His role today was wherever possible be in front of the line or in between the two centre backs because we knew their midfield players would split. You could almost say we were a diamond in the midfield but it doesn’t matter how you see it.

“I’m not someone who talks technical terms, I’m bored of hearing managers and coaches how good they are by giving tactical sessions in press conferences. He did what he needed to do and it was a position where he was that suited him because he was in a deeper role. He’s got youth and energy on either side of him and in front in Andi.”

Joe Williams may not play against Coventry City despite his performance today. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

The former Wigan Athletic midfielder has been in the last seven match days squads, featuring in six matches.

He has mainly though had to settle for a place on the substitutes bench, building up his minutes by coming on as a substitute with only the Reading game a fortnight ago the other match in which he completed more than a half of football.

Whilst Williams put in a solid display today, he may not be available for the midweek visit of Coventry City on Tuesday evening.

He will be closely monitored by Pearson who will make a decision on whether he is fit enough to play a second game in four days with a weekend game also in the offing too.

Despite his absence, he has become an influential figure amongst the City first-team squad and has been praised from how he sees the game from his mind.

Pearson said: “It’s been a frustrating time for him so what we’re trying to do is manage him and his own expectations into a position where we use him we’re not fearful of him getting injured because he’s had some setbacks when he’s been here.”

“He’s really infectious in a good way to have around. He’s a box of fireworks but he’s a real good player and has a game understanding.

“It’s good to have him back but you might not see him again on Tuesday night just because we have to make sure he’s going to be available for the rest of the season.”

“It’s my job and our job as staff to manage that, I don’t think it’s always an easy thing to explain to our fans in particular. At the moment the game is incredibly athletic and the demands physically on players is huge.”