ROBBIE WILLMOTT is hoping he can reach new heights next season after the most gruelling campaign of his career.
Newport County’s Mr Versatile made his 52nd appearance of the campaign on Saturday at York, the most times any player has appeared for the Exiles this term by a distance.
Typically for the man signed 18-months ago as a squad player it was another game where Willmott was asked to perform outside of his comfort zone, beginning as a left winger and ending the contest as a left back in a flat back four.
The former Cambridge man has played in six different positions this season and despite being one of those unproven at this level, has a real chance of being named County’s player of the year.
And having penned a contract extension already until 2016, Willmott is focusing on a big improvement for him and the Exiles.
“I left Cambridge as it wasn’t working out, there were a lot of problems between me and the club, I made the switch and last season I was settling in, it’s not wrong to say that I was a bit on the fringes last season.
“This season has been amazing for me personally, the gaffer has done so much for me and the staff, Jimmy Dack, Wayne Hatswell and Tony James, they’ve had the faith to put me in wherever and the experience has spurred me on to get even fitter for next season.
“I do feel like I’m a vital part of this team at the moment and my name is maybe first on the team sheet some weeks, so it has been brilliant for me.
“I’ve played over 50 games, I’ve never done that before, but I’m a fit lad, I’m only 23 so I should be playing that many games, if I’m playing well enough. It’s taken a toll on my body, but it has inspired me as well.
“We’ve learned a lot, the fine margins when you move up a division are massive. At one stage we were fourth and three points off the top and we are going to finish scrapping for safety, so it has been a massive lesson.
“Next year I want to kick-on even further.”
Willmott is happy to have added so many new positions to his repertoire, including left back, left wing back, right wing back and central midfield.
“I don’t mind playing left back, I’m usually wing-back and further up, or winger and even further up, but on Saturday it was left back in a four and I felt really comfortable, it was probably my easiest game there,” he said.
“I feel comfortable as a defender now, as it is becoming a natural position for me. That’s the influence of the staff here.”
Manager Justin Edinburgh believes Willmott showed again on Saturday why he’s become so important to the side.
“We’ve picked up another injury with Andy Sandell, who has damaged shoulder ligaments and we didn’t have a recognised defender on the bench,” he said.
“Robbie Willmott has done well which sums his season up; wherever he’s been asked to play he’s performed very, very well.”