HEAD coach Luke Williams believes it will be nigh-on impossible to replace Nathan Thompson, with the Swindon Town skipper seemingly having played his last game for the club.

Club captain Thompson has missed Town’s last three fixtures because of a heel injury and is almost certain to sit out Sunday’s final game of the season away at Charlton Athletic.

Thompson made an emotional appearance on the County Ground pitch wearing a protective boot to applaud the home supporters following the final whistle of Town’s 2-1 defeat against Scunthorpe United last Saturday – a result that confirmed their relegation to League Two.

That appears to have been a farewell to the fans who have cheered him on since his first-team debut back in 2010, with the 26-year-old having joined the club as a trainee three years prior.

Thompson’s Town contract expires at the end of the season and it is understood that he sees his future away from the club, with a number of sides eager to snap him up.

Although stopping short of confirming Thompson’s departure, Williams paid a glowing tribute to his captain and believes his are big boots to fill.

“His heart is with the club completely, his standards are so high, he is a tremendous athlete, he is technically very, very comfortable for this level and tactically, he is very switched on,” said Williams.

“I think it is going to be very, very difficult to replace Nathan but there will always be another player that shines and comes through and will have to fill the void that Nathan leaves if he is not at the club anymore.

“He is one of the best people I know and he is an incredible football player. He is capable of playing several positions, he has fight inside him, he is a winner, he wants to compete. He is somebody that other players turn to when they need advice or when they feel low or unsure about things.

“The year we went to Wembley (2015), he was instrumental in so many things that we did well and I think he has improved again from that point.

"I would really love to see him in a very strong squad because I think he can be in a winning squad that does something spectacular.”

Town’s relegation from League One has been gut-wrenching for players, staff and supporters alike but no one has been harder hit than Thompson.

When asked about the emotions of the skipper in the aftermath of the defeat to Scunthorpe, Williams said: “Distraught is the one-word answer, absolutely distraught.”