Chris Wilder admits striker Emile Sinclair is going through ‘a bit of a dip’ but stresses the Cobblers focus for the final two games has to be on a group effort.
Sinclair, who signed a loan deal in the January transfer window which will become permanent in the summer, has been heavily criticised by the club’s supporters in recent weeks and in particular for a missed chance in the 1-0 defeat to Portsmouth on Easter Monday.
Wilder did not wish to comment directly on that incident - in which it appeared that Sinclair pulled out of a header at goal from an Evan Horwood cross - but admits the striker, whose two-year deal at Sixfields will kick in over the summer, needs to up his game.
“From my point of view, we’d like players to be playing at the top of their game, of course we want that,” said the Northampton manager.
“People have seen what Emile can do and unfortunately at the moment it’s not going for him.
“We brought him into the club to produce performances like the ones against Torquay and Southend but these things happen.
“We can talk about all of the players throughout the season - in the first 20 seconds of my first game Matt Duke made a mistake and he’s come back from that.
“Emile is having a little bit of a dip and we’ve got to manage that.
“Whether he plays or comes off the bench, or doesn’t even get involved, I’ve got to look at the bigger picture.
“We talk to players throughout the week and we want the best out of them but it’s really all about the group.
“We’ll make a decision on Sincs (Sinclair) but it’s about how we come through the next two games as a group.”
When asked for his view of the opportunity against Portsmouth, Wilder played a straight bat but admitted the player will be ‘disappointed’ at his failure to make contact on the ball.
“It was just a chance missed,” he said. “There were chances missed in the game and there have been chances missed all season.
“I don’t want to comment on it, it’s a good piece of play and we should have scored from it.
“We move on and the boy will be as disappointed with it as anyone else.”