Determined Zakuani desperate to keep his Cobblers place

Gabriel Zakuani feels he's playing as well as he ever has

Gabriel Zakuani feels he's playing as well as he ever has

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Gabriel Zakuani has revealed his delight at finding himself back in the Cobblers team for the visit of Manchester United on Wednesday and now he intends to stay there as Northampton switch their focus back to the league.

Prior to Wednesday, Zakuani hadn’t featured since going away on international duty with Lewin Nyatanga and Zander Diamond given the nod at centre-back.

Those two had forged a promising partnership but the three goals conceded against Chesterfield last week prompted Rob Page to recall Zakuani, who didn’t disappoint against Wayne Rooney and co when United came to town for the EFL Cup tie.

“One thing I know is I’ve done nothing wrong and that’s the difference,” said Zakuani on his time out of the team.

“I’ve not been out of form and I’ve not done anything wrong and the gaffer’s made that clear.

“I’ve played as well here as I can remember but with the timing of international duty, it was understandable.

“But I’m back now and I plan to stay in the team.”

After Wednesday’s defeat, the focus is now very much on Saturday’s home encounter with Southend United.

Phil Brown’s side arrive at Sixfields having picked up a much-needed victory against Millwall last weekend and now they plan to inflict a third straight defeat on the Cobblers.

Zakuani added: “We’ve had a decent start to the season and a win on Saturday would make it a very good start.

I’ve played as well here as I can remember but with the timing of international duty, it was understandable. But I’m back now and I plan to stay in the team.

Gabriel Zakuani

“We have to forget about Wednesday. It was a great occasion for everyone involved with the club but we’ve got to put it behind us and look forward to climbing the table.”

Zakuani has also backed goalkeeper Adam Smith to rediscover his form after Wednesday’s nightmare performance against United.

The 30-year-old said: “It happens in football. He’s young and there might be a few more of those in his career.

“He’s just got to pick himself up. The best thing for us is that we’ve got a game coming up and he can put it behind him.”