As one of 10 players to have walked through the Sixfields gates over the past two months, Sam Foley knows it’s essential for this this new-look Cobblers squad to gel as quickly as possible, both on and off the pitch, if they want to hit the ground running this season.
At the time of his arrival, way back in May, Foley was just Town’s third signing, following in the footsteps of George Smith and Daniel Powell, but that was only the calm before the storm and since there has been a rush of new faces who have made the switch to Sixfields.
And as well as players coming in, there have also been several departures.
With the likes of Gabriel Zakuani, Zander Diamond and Adam Smith – all of whom were first-team regulars last season – having left the club, it will be a very different looking Cobblers team which takes to the field at Shrewsbury’s Greenhous Meadow on August 5.
Pre-season therefore becomes as vital as ever. As well as building up fitness levels, it provides the best opportunity for Town’s players, both new and old, to get accustomed to one another and develop those crucial relationships and partnerships across the pitch.
Defence and midfield - Foley’s position - are two areas of the pitch that have undergone major reconstruction over the summer but the former Port Vale man has been impressed by the speed at which Northampton’s 10 new faces have bonded.
The morale of the squad is very good. Everyone has got something in common and we all have the same goal in terms of what we want to achieve so bonding is easy.Cobblers midfielder Sam Foley
“The morale of the squad is very good,” he said. “Everyone has got something in common and we all have the same goal in terms of what we want to achieve so bonding is easy.
“We’ve got some great lads who have come in and great lads who were already here, so if we can get the togetherness that the gaffer craves from his teams we can move forward as a group in a positive way.
“It’s good to get wins on the board but pre-season is about building fitness and combination and bedding new players in.”
Foley has experience of playing under current Town manager Justin Edinburgh when the two were at Newport County in 2011, but this is first taste of being a Cobbler.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute so far,” added the 30-year-old.
“You can’t complain with playing football for a living and hopefully all the hard work will bear fruit when the season comes around.
“I’ve got half an eye on Shrewsbury but it’s still a long way until that.
“We’ve got some more friendlies to go and I’ve got to try and get in the team for that first game.”
To achieve that, Foley faces stiff competition. John-Joe O’Toole and Matt Taylor regularly partnered each other in central midfield last season but following the arrivals of Matt Crooks, Yaser Kasim and Foley himself, a regular starting berth is far from guaranteed.
Foley, though, is relishing the challenge.
He added: “Competition for places is vital for any football club and any position.
“If you’re really truly going to get the best out of individuals they need to be pushed to their limits, and competition for places is the main way of doing that.”
Foley was speaking following Tuesday’s 4-0 win at Frome Town when goals from Marc Richards, Daniel Powell, Alex Revell and Dean Bowditch earned the Cobblers a third victory in pre-season.
“Obviously the gaffer will be pleased but it’s work time for us and now we just move on to the next work day,” added Foley, who was also involved as Town were beaten 2-0 at AFC Rushden & Diamonds on Wednesday.
“Frome were a decent side. I’ve had the pleasure of playing here before and it’s never been an easy place to go in pre-season.
“The pitch was difficult, but you’ll get that when you go to teams at that level and it’s good work time for us.
“As long as you can get a good challenge in front of you and you can work off that all you can do is try and play your game.
“Confidence is key.
“We’ve got a lot of flair players who are capable of good things, and if they have confidence anything can happen.”
The Cobblers are back in action on Saturday when they take on Kettering Town in the NFA Maunsell Cup Final, with the match being played at Wellingborough Town’s Dog & Duck ground (ko 3pm).