Willem Tomlinson has started the opening two matches of the North West Counties Premier Division season for Padiham.

The former Rovers midfielder has helped the Storks to the top of the table having played in the opening day 4-4 draw with Whitchurch Alport and the midweek win at Squires Gate.

There he set up the opening goal in a 2-1 win for Michael Morrison’s side who are top of the pile with four points from their two matches.

Tomlinson is currently without a club having left League Two side Mansfield Town under something of a cloud in September, only a matter of weeks after the club took up the 12-month option within his contract.

However, the 22-year-old later turned out for Accrington Stanley in their pre-season matches, including one against Rovers at Brockhall.

Mansfield boss Graham Coughlan said the decision to let Tomlinson go was owing to a breach of trust and that he ‘let the football club down’.

He added: "It's not nice when you have to sit down with a kid and go through his misdemeanours and try to get them on the straight and narrow. I failed

Tomlinson left Rovers last February, ending his 10-year association with the club, and joined the League Two side for who he made 33 appearances.

Following his release by Mansfield, and being a free agent, Tomlinson isn’t bound by the transfer deadline of October 16 if he’s to sign for another club.

The Burnley-born midfielder had been close to signing for Exeter City before he was snapped up by Mansfield, but now faces the challenge of rebuilding his career.

He could well continue to turn out for the Storks who are next in action on Saturday when they travel to Heaton Stannington.