Barnsley FC boss Michael Duff reveals Jordan Williams's key role off the pitch as well as on it

THERE are several strings to Jordan Williams's bow these days - and not just on the pitch either.

The versatile Barnsley defender/wing-back is a key component in what is becoming one of the EFL's stories of 2022-23, with his own dynamic contribution recognised this week by way of a nomination for the League One's player-of-the-month award for February.

Derby County’s David McGoldrick may have won that particular accolade, but there is no doubting the prowess of Williams, who is proving to be one of the best operators at third-tier level this year, while also adding a penchant for goalscoring to his list of admirable traits.

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The Huddersfield-born player has scored three times already in 2023.

Barnsley's Jordan Williams. Picture: Tim Goode/PA Wire.Barnsley's Jordan Williams. Picture: Tim Goode/PA Wire.
Barnsley's Jordan Williams. Picture: Tim Goode/PA Wire.

Off the field, Williams's skills extend to book-keeping and even a bit of debt-collecting - but Reds supporters should not be fearful of a career change just yet.

Head coach Michael Duff told The Yorkshire Post: "Jordan goes under the radar a little bit. But he has grown in terms of the dressing room and his responsibility.

"There has been a big turnaround in the dressing room in the last 12 months and he has taken that on. He looks after all the fines and that's an important job in a dressing room, I can assure you.

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"He is a book-keeper and debt collector.. Among all that, his performances have been good, which is ultimately what he is here for."

As for Williams's recent recognition, the Reds chief, who won the monthly managerial gong for February - his third award in four months - said: "Him among others, he is the one who has got the nomination.

"I am sure a number of our players could have been nominated. It is just recognition and I am pleased for him as he's deserved it."

After the disappointment of not cracking it at his hometown club, his loss to Huddersfield is very much proving to be Barnsley's gain.

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Very much a modern-day player whose work-rate down the right-hand side, both in attack and defence, is prodigious, Williams is a player who is increasingly combining mobility with speed of thought in his decision-making.

He has been linked with Championship clubs of late and it is easy to see why. The hope is that he will be back in the second-tier in Barnsley colours in 2023-24 and not those of another side.

Duff continued: "He has been really good. The most pleasing part is that we have managed to keep him on the pitch and I think that has been the only question mark regarding Jordan over the past couple of years - his injury record.

"Without getting major ones, he keeps picking up those niggles. Whether that is his body maturing, his mentality or professionalism, he deserves credit for that and obviously we can't take any.

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"His performances have been excellent. With his physical attributes, you can't give them and teach people to run that quickly.

"With the final ball, when you are running that quick and your brain is going 100 miles per hour, his delivery has been better.

"I know he has been working on it and knows when to run in behind and when to shadow out. So he's learnt the tactical side of it."

There is a school of thought that Williams will end up as a centre-half further down the line.

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As a former central defender, Duff is perfectly placed to comment on that.

He said: "I think he has got the flexibility to do both. In a back-three, definitely. He could end up there. We have played him there this season.

"As a two, he might need to be a bit more dominant in the air. But the things he brings to the team are what we ask of him."

Williams is one of 11 different goalscorers to find the net in the Reds' last nine league matches, which have yielded 22 goals.

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While Williams has struck three times, Kitching and Nicky Cadden have scored twice.

Another defender in Bobby Thomas has also found the net.

Duff said: "I don't care who scores to be honest.

"In a perfect world, you win 2-0 every week and your two centre-forwards get a goal each and you keep a clean sheet.

"But we don't live in a perfect world and we do carry a threat all over the pitch now.

"Our full-backs have been scoring and our three centre midfielders have been scoring and centre-halves have been chipping in from dead-ball situations.

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"The positive of not having a 25 or 30-goal striker is that we can affect the game from different areas.

"If you rely on all your goals on one person and he has a poor game, injury or suspension or whatever, then it is hard."