SWINDON Town boss Phil Brown believes on-loan defenders Luke Woolfenden and Sid Nelson have already started to prove they are up to the rigours of life in League Two.

With Dion Conroy and Chris Robertson both on the sidelines and club captain Olly Lancashire not 100 per cent fit, Brown has had to field Woolfenden and Nelson as his central defensive pairing in Swindon’s last two matches.

Those contests have yielded two wins and two clean sheets as Town beat both Morecambe and Newport County 1-0 in the league and Checkatrade Trophy respectively.

For Woolfenden, the appearances were his first for Town since joining the club on a season-long deal from Ipswich Town on August 31 as the 19-year-old looks to get a first full campaign in the EFL under his belt.

On Saturday at Morecambe, Woolfenden turned in an equally adept performance after shifting to right-back late in the first half following a red card for Kyle Knoyle, and is likely to start there for the visit of Bury in the league this weekend.

Alongside him, Nelson – still only 22 himself and on a fourth loan stint away from Millwall – has grown in stature with each passing game.

Brown is delighted with how quickly the pair have settled into life at Swindon and says they will give him plenty to think about once all his defensive options are available again.

“Luke Woolfenden has really staked a claim for a permanent place in the team and so has Sid Nelson. Bring it on, I think the competition for places is fantastic,” said Brown.

“If I am asking any manager about a centre-half coming to this football club on loan, if I am asking (former Ipswich manager) Mick McCarthy about a centre-half and he says it is a no-brainer, then even if I have not seen the player, I am taking the player.

“It is not that I just trust Mick’s word or anything like that, it’s that Mick is a centre-half who knows what it is all about – heading it and kicking it in the second division.

“It is quite simply what it said on the tin, but the lad can play as well. If he heads it and kicks it at the right time and gets it down at the right time, then we have got a player on our hands.

“But there is a lad alongside him on loan from Millwall who is putting his body on the line.

“The key issue to this is not knowing what the second division is all about, it’s about knowing what the manager wants from you.

“I actually do want them to play, but I also want them to head it and kick it when necessary and cause the opposition a problem.”

Woolfenden and Nelson stifled the Newport attack well as Town earned a first Checkatrade Trophy win of the season on Tuesday night.

Brown believes successfully overcoming the challenge will stand the duo in good stead.

“(Newport striker) Jamille Matt knows his way around the second division like a blind man. For me, he was going to pose a threat on Tuesday and it was good test for them,” said Brown.

“To come away with a clean sheet against their strikers on Tuesday was a testament to both the players, not just Luke Woolfenden.”