Nigel Pearson suggests patience is a virtue as Joe Williams takes Bristol City opportunity

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Williams has started for the last two matches for Bristol City

Nigel Pearson has admitted that Joe Williams has been frustrated with his opportunities at Bristol City, but has been pleased with how he has responded.

Williams has started the last two matches in the absence of Kal Naismith who has been absent through a calf injury. Naismith is expected to be out for the next couple of weeks and in his place Williams has stepped up. He has had to be patient for his opportunity, and so far has assumed Naismith's role well, having a similar influence.

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The 26-year-old's start against Norwich was his first since the Boxing Day defeat to West Brom in which a change in shape and personnel was made. Naismith's move into central midfield has seen him provide cover to the defence and it has coincided with their upturn in form. The absence of Naismith was thought to be a blow, but in his recent match against Wigan, Williams once again showed that he can step up to the plate.

"This season he has had a full pre-season and he’s had spells in the side and he’s lost his place and had to be patient," said Pearson on Tuesday, before their Championship clash with Wigan Athletic, which finished 1-1.

"All these types of things together can have influence on what an individual route looks like and out of necessity as well, we need Joe at the moment. He’s playing well and he’s had good influence off of the bench too which is also testament to how he has gone about it. He’s been frustrated there’s no doubt about that, and he’d tell you that himself. He’s been able to control that and channel that frustration in to performance."

City have operated with a small squad for most of Pearson's tenure, and at times has come as a detriment with players slotted in to different positions. In the earlier part of the campaign, both Kal Naismith and Tomas Kalas had both suffered injuries at the same time, and that made for a defensive crisis.

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As for Williams, there has been a cautious approach as to how he has been used. During Dean Holden's tenure, and then into Pearson's time at the club, he has suffered several hamstring injuries that has seen him sidelined for several periods. Williams has improved this season and has built up that much desired robustness that Pearson craves in the members of his playing squad. He has not yet missed a long period and has only missed out on a match-day squad once in the Championship.

The plan last year to build up Williams was for him to avoid playing in double-game weeks and he would need to be preferred for one fixture over the offer. He has now been able to deal with the workload of two matches in a week, but whilst the situation has improved, Pearson says that you can never stop what happens in a game.

Pearson said: "What we can’t do in a game is control what happens out there on the field and that there is too many variables for us to try and do that. I’m really pleased he’s in a good place himself and he’s playing his part in what has been an upturn for the whole group and it’s changed our results. It’s the key factor.

"Even towards the back end of last year if you remember we talked about the fact there was a confidence that he probably could but in his interest to minimalise the risk and because we had other options, we chose not to."

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