RAPHAEL Branco has made great strides since swapping the Conference South for League One, according to Swindon Town assistant coach Luke Williams.
Brazilian centre-back Branco has made 13 appearances for the Robins following his summer arrival from Whitehawk, producing a mixture of accomplished and nervous displays.
Williams, who coached Branco during the pairs’ time together at Brighton & Hove Albion, has been impressed with what he has seen from the 23-year-old over the course of the past nine months and, while he feels the defender still has plenty of scope to improve, he’s more than happy with Branco’s development.
“I think the big step Raffa Branco has taken, he’s taken really well. It’s a big step up for a boy to step into league football when last season he was playing in Conference South and I think he’s handled that really well,” said Williams.
“Raffa has got a couple of kinks to iron out in his positional play defensively. I think he can be even better for us in possession. He can step into midfield with the ball more, he can control and play quickly at times from the back. I think sometimes he’s a little slow on the ball but in general he’s been very, very good.”
Meanwhile, Williams reserved special praise for another of the players he recommended to Town, Yaser Kasim, following the Iraqi’s breakthrough season in English football.
“Yaser I think has been absolutely outstanding, in my opinion,” he said. “I think he can go to the next level by being able to affect the game in both our half of the pitch and theirs, I think he’s got that much ability.”
Williams revealed his role as a middle man between manager Mark Cooper and the players, saying: “We talk a lot. I try to talk to all the players. There are things you learn about players when you’re talking about something else. You get some information about maybe something that is going on in their life and maybe why they’re performing in a certain way or why they’ve been a little bit down.
“There are times when it’s difficult for a player to go to a manager and say ‘I’ve got this issue or that issue’. Sometimes it can be easier to go through me, to let me know something’s not right and I can feed that to the manager at the right time.”
Meanwhile, Yaser Kasim did not train with the rest of the Town squad on Thursday but Williams is hopeful the Iraqi’s niggle will not be serious enough to rule him out of the weekend clash with Brentford.
“Yaser Kasim might have a problem, we’re not sure exactly what yet. It’s nothing too serious but he didn’t train and we’re being careful with Yaser but he’s got the chance to train tomorrow and he could be involved,” said Williams.
“Yaser has played so much football this year so we don’t need him to train every day. We took a precaution with him but we expect him to train and to assess him tomorrow.”