Edinburgh excited by returning players as he urges Cobblers to keep their foot down

ON THE UP: Justin Edinburgh's side must keep churning out points to stay clear of relegation. Picture by Sharon Lucey
ON THE UP: Justin Edinburgh's side must keep churning out points to stay clear of relegation. Picture by Sharon Lucey

Justin Edinburgh is looking forward to having a full squad to pick from in the coming weeks as several players return to full fitness, especially given the need for his side to keep churning out results to avoid being sucked back into a relegation battle.

Ten points collected from a possible 15, including Saturday’s battling draw at Southend United, has steered the Cobblers up to 14th and clear of immediate danger.

But with several of those clubs below them also starting to find form under the guidance of a new manager,such as the likes of Shrewsbury Town and Oldham Athletic, Northampton remain only six points clear of relegation and in no way out of trouble just yet.

That’s especially the case when considering six of the 10 teams beneath them have games in hand, including Port Vale in 21st who have played two games fewer than the Cobblers

But Saturday’s resilient performance and hard-fought 2-2 draw against promotion-hunting Southend bodes well ahead of this weekend’s trip to red-hot Fleetwood Town who are unbeaten in their last 15 league matches.

“They don’t come any easier,” admitted Edinburgh. “We knew these two away games back-to-back were going to be difficult but with that kind of performance and that kind of resilience and togetherness, we’ll be tough opposition for anyone on any day.

Alex Revell suffered a calf injury during the trip to Milton Keynes Dons (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Alex Revell suffered a calf injury during the trip to Milton Keynes Dons (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

“We’ve got to keep chipping away. We know there are a lot of teams below us that can quite easily string some results and a run of games together and climb the table.

“We’re not taking anything for granted. We’ll get back to work on Monday and prepare again for Fleetwood.

“It’s nice to get to 40 points and that gives us a nice bit of breathing space between us and the bottom four.”

Gabriel Zakuani returned to the Cobblers matchday squad on Saturday for the first time since heading to the Africa Cup of Nations at the start of January.

We’ve got to keep chipping away. We know there are a lot of teams below us that can quite easily string some results and a run of games together and climb the table. We’re not taking anything for granted.

And with Alex Revell, Luke Williams and Brendan Moloney also all close to returning from injury, Edinburgh is excited by the options at his disposal.

“That’s what we want,” he said. “We want competition for places and bit by bit we’re keeping the players fit that are on the pitch and we had Gaby back on the bench.

“Alex Revell hopefully next week, Luke Williams is not too far away and also Brendan Moloney and all of a sudden you’re looking at a squad and a team that will be full of talent and real good, strong competition for places.

“That’s what you want as a manager. You want to be making tough decisions on who you play rather than the team picking itself.

“It was a really good performance on Saturday and it was a deserved point at a very tough place to go.”

Adam Smith played a key role in Saturday’s draw, several times denying Southend with a succession of fine saves, including one superb reaction stop to deny Nile Ranger late on

Edinburgh added: “It was a fantastic save and he kept us in the game and won the point for us, but I thought we deserved that.

“We had a couple of balls in and around our box but that was their one real effort on goal that caused us a problem and Smudge reacted well to it.”