Williams not looking forward to reunion with “competitive” Stephens

Jack Stephens celebrates his only goal for the Robins last season with Nathan Byrne and Andy Williams (PIC: Richard Wintle)

Swindon Town Head Coach Luke Williams has admitted that he will have mixed feelings when he comes face-to-face with Jack Stephens again on Saturday.

The defender is currently on loan at tomorrow’s opponents Coventry City having sealed a move to the Ricoh Arena last month, despite there being a possibility of a return to SN1.

Stephens – who also spent an unsuccessful spell at Middlesbrough earlier this season – first joined Town on a short-term basis from Premier League outfit Southampton during the 2013/14 campaign, where he impressed in ten outings at the heart of the defence.

Swindon then opted to bring the 22-year-old back to Wiltshire prior to the start of last season, the England U21 international going on to become a key figure in the side that reached the League One Play-Off Final at Wembley.

But Stephens will now be attempting to help deliver a hammer blow to his old side’s hopes of reaching the play-offs when Town take on the Sky Blues tomorrow (3pm Kick-Off), alongside another ex-Robin in the form of Sam Ricketts.

And Williams, while looking forward to catching up with the pair, is well aware that they are both more than capable of making it a tough afternoon for Swindon.

“I’m looking forward to seeing both of those men but I’m really not looking forward to them being in the opposition at all,” he told BBC Wiltshire.

“Not only are they extremely good footballers but they’ve also played at a high level and they are very competitive men.

“They are strong-willed and I’m not comfortable with them being in the opposition at all, not having known their character.

“I would rather be ignorant to it, to be honest.”

Williams also admitted he is surprised that Stephens is back in League One and not plying his trade at a higher level.

“I am surprised, I’m very surprised,” he continued.

“I think it is only the fact that, and I’m speculating here, Middlesbrough have had a really good season and found a formula that worked for them.

“I don’t think it is because Jack is not good enough, I think it is probably because players have been in there and have done their job very well and didn’t give an opportunity to give the shirt away to Jack.

“If things had been slightly different for him and he started the season and got off to a flyer, then I think Jack would still be there now and pushing for the Premier League.

“There is absolutely no doubt and no ifs or buts with Jack that he can definitely play at a higher level.”

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