George Thomson: Ever-improving Harrogate Town's midfielder 'lapping up' new role in centre of the park
Simon Weaver could not have imagined George Thomson operating in a central midfield role two years ago.
But, the 28-year-old, who has traditionally always played as a winger, has been a revelation in Harrogate Town's engine room since being deployed there during the Sulphurites' 2-2 draw at Salford City in late January.
A change of formation saw Thomson used in a three-man midfield during December, however when the Sulphurites reverted back to their tried and tested 4-4-2, Weaver experimented with the former FC United of Manchester man playing in a two.
He has now started nine consecutive fixtures in the centre of the park and been largely impressive in each contest, helping Town to five wins in their last seven.
Speaking after Saturday's 1-0 victory over Grimsby Town, a game that saw Thomson produce a man-of-the-match performance, Weaver praised his player for the way he has evolved as a footballer.
"He's a player who just keeps getting better and better," the Harrogate chief said.
"Year by year, what he does is work on the incremental steps in order to progress. He's learned about the game in different positions.
"I could never have imagined the Thommo of two years ago performing like he is in the centre of midfield because of the physicality, we knew he could do it at right-wing when he comes narrow, the way he looks after the ball.
"He's been fantastic down the right with the relationship he's built up with [right-back] Ryan Fallowfield, but centre midfield and playing like a general? It's been a massive plus for us since Christmas.
"He did pretty well in a three-man midfield, but has looked even better in the two. I think sometimes he could look frustrated on the right when he wasn't getting enough of the ball, but he's right in the heart of the action now and he's lapping it up.
"I wondered if positionally, it might not click 100 per cent of the time, but it has done. He reads the game so well and his understanding is good. He's watching video clips all the time, he looks after his body, he's one of the first on and last off the training pitch. He's made the position his own."
With club captain Josh Falkingham and Warren Burrell both rested, Thomson was named skipper for Saturday's clash with the Mariners.
"We had a choice to make because obviously Josh Falkingham and Warren Burrell were taken out of it," Weaver added.
"But, when I looked at George's contribution to the team over the time he's been with us, his attitude in training and professionalism makes him one of our shining lights.
"He's been performing just as we would want a captain to perform without having the armband. He's got personality and he deserved his moment to be captain.
"It's great to have a growing band of leaders in the squad. It bodes well for the future."
The absence of Falkingham saw Thomson partnered with the recalled Lloyd Kerry in the centre of midfield and Weaver was pleased by the way the pair went about their business.
"George combined well with Lloyd, who was also superb," Weaver said.
"The physicality was there as well as the composure on the ball. We switched the ball as well as we have in a long time.
"George plays with great clarity whichever role he is given and the Grimsby game was another great example of what he can do in centre midfield. He did the ugly stuff and on a churned up surface he knew when to play the percentages but also he was the one player on the pitch who switched the play.
"It got increasingly difficult with the pitch in the second half but he made a great contribution to the game."
Thomson and his Town team-mates go in search of a sixth success in eight matches when they visit Barrow on Tuesday evening, 7pm kick-off.