Doncaster Rovers: Andy Williams delighted for young pretender Liam Mandeville
Could it be the case that Liam Mandeville is getting a little too big for his boots?
Not that the young forward has let his incredible recent progress go to his head.
But when it comes to the pecking order in the squad, is the 19-year-old somewhat stepping out of line?
According to team mate Andy Williams, Mandeville is turning up the heat on his fellow forwards with his improvement on the training ground, as well as his impact on the pitch.
“He’s starting to compete with me in finishing drills now, which is interesting,” Williams told the Free Press.
By no means is Williams looking to slap down the young pretender.
On the contrary, the 30-year-old is looking to help nurture the obvious talents of Mandeville.
“I try my best,” Williams said. “He listens to everyone. I think he’s learning a lot from us all.
“I don’t know how much knowledge I can give him.
“He’s a good player – probably with more ability than me.”
Though he had shown flashes of his ability previously, Mandeville truly came to the fore when Williams suffered an ankle injury in early October which kept him out for two months.
Since then, he has scored seven goals to put himself firmly in the race to top the scoring charts at the club this term.
Williams – who netted his ninth goal of the season in the Boxing Day win over Notts County – says Mandeville could inspire other young players at the club.
He said: “He’s done brilliantly. It was a couple of games in before he starting hitting the goals.
“We all knew the talent he’s got and he’s a really good lad off the pitch.
“His attitude is spot on.
“A lot of the young lads around the place can learn a lot from him because he’s going to go far.”
Williams’ deft header against Notts County was his first league goal since his return to action.
It is not hard to imagine he would have perhaps surpassed John Marquis’ leading 11 goal tally had his season not suffered a two month interruption.
While keeping personal targets as close to his chest as ever, Williams says his is currently ‘miles off’ where he wants to be this term when it comes to goals.
So the frustration over his lay off is understandable.
“I think it was the type of injury as well,” he said. “It was the last kick of the game where I’d scored the winner.
“I was on a high and it got taken away from me.
“I knew straight away because I was in a lot of pain. It was bad.
“Thankfully it wasn’t quite as bad as what we thought and we managed to get back quicker than the doctors said, which was good.
“I think I get quite lucky with the way I recover.
“I live my life very well, eat well and do all the things I can to maximise my chances of getting back quicker.
“You get a little bit of luck as well.”
Though back on the goal trail, Williams feels he still needs to get back up to speed with his game.
And with matches coming thick and fast over the next week, he will get plenty of practice.
He said: “I have no problems about the injury and I don’t even think about it.
“That is the most important thing, you don’t want to be coming back thinking about injuries. You want to make sure you’re spot on.
“Hopefully, just a bit more match practice and I’ll be back to where I was before.”