TOMMY LAWSON has paid tribute to Tom Hardwick as the Skelmersdale United skipper closes in on his 200th appearance for the club.
The centre back will make his 199th outing for Skem in their FA Cup qualifier at West Auckland Town on Saturday, and could reach the milestone against Trafford next Tuesday.
Hardwick has worked under Lawson throughout his career, and is in his second spell with Skem, having returned from a spell with Warrington Town in 2012.
Lawson said: “I've got a lot of time for Tom. He's a smashing lad and a smashing footballer.
“I had him as a kid up at Clitheroe, when he was on Southport's development programme, and we have worked closely together ever since really.
“He knows what I want from my players, and I know he will deliver for me. He came back to Skem at a time when Mike Burke, our captain, had suffered a bad injury, and we needed a leader to replace him. He's done that brilliantly. He's been a very good choice as captain for me.”
Lawson is in the rare position of having to lift his players after a defeat, as Skem went down 2-0 at Buxton last Saturday. The loss leaves them third in the Evo-Stik Premier Division table, but cannot take the shine of what has been a solid start to the season.
Lawson said: “If you'd have offered me 20 points from 10 games at the start of the season, I'd have taken it. That equates to a very good season's work if we sustain it.