The Cobblers have confirmed they will offer Lewis Hornby a professional contract at the club but plan to delay doing so in order to maintain the midfielder’s hunger.
The 17-year-old Hornby has been a revelation in central midfield and has only been on the losing side for Northampton once - the defeat on penalties to Bradford City in the FA Cup first-round replay last week.
He remains on a scholarship contract at Sixfields and still technically qualifies to play for the Town youth side, along with fellow first-team squad players David Moyo and Ivan Toney.
Goalkeeper Dean Snedker, who has made three appearances for the senior side but is yet to play in the league, also fits that bill but signed a three-year professional deal shortly after he made his debut.
“There will be (something offered to Hornby) but it’s a very difficult situation with young players,” said manager Aidy Boothroyd.
“They are so desperate to get a professional contract but I want to keep them hungry and chomping at the bit and so I’ve always got to be on the reins with them. That way they don’t get comfortable.
“But without a doubt, Lewis’ performances recently suggest we need to take care of him and we need to do it quite quickly.”
Hornby has adapted very well to life in league two - as an emerging young player the club’s key concern with him was his ability to cope with the physical side of the game but he has acquitted himself excellently in that regard.
The teenager been so strong that he is playing like a seasoned professional, something that has delighted his manager.
“Whilst he’s doing so well and playing so well I don’t want to rock the boat,” said Boothroyd. “I want him to keep playing well and keep developing.
“He’s showing a composure and a calmness. Sometimes you look at him and think ‘that’s a really experienced decision you’ve just made there’ and he’s only a boy so I’m really pleased with his progress.
“He’s going to take some shifting to get out of that team.”
Hornby is set to line up in central midfield for tonight’s npower League Two clash with Morecambce at Sixfields (ko 7.45pm).