John-Joe O’Toole has committed his future to the Cobblers - and now the fans’ favourite is aiming high.
The Town midfielder signed a new two-year contract to stay at Sixfields last Friday, and he has a burning ambition for the club to progress.
The Cobblers ended up finishing 16th in Sky Bet League One in their first season following promotion, but now O’Toole wants to kick on under Justin Edinburgh.
Indeed, he believes that with the right recruitment, the Cobblers could be challenging for promotion.
It would be a big ask, especially when you consider Town finished a huge 20 points off the top six this term, but O’Toole believes they can be in the mix.
“Having played this season, I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t get promoted,” said the 28-year-old.
When you look back at it, a couple of the teams might have been first to the ball, and have really looked sharper and fitter than us. That is something we need to addressCobblers midfielder John-Joe O’Toole
“It is there for us, although it could potentially be a bit harder next season.
“If we get the right squad put together, and it will be partly down to the manager to get the right players in, then I don’t see why we can’t have a right go at it.
“You only have to look at the likes of Burton, which isn’t the biggest club in the world, and if they can do it, I don’t see why we can’t.”
As well as recruitment of new players over the summer, another of the key areas for improvement as far as O’Toole is concerned is the team’s fitness levels, which he feels weren’t quite up the scratch over the past 10 months.
The fact Town boasted the oldest squad in the division may have had something to do with that, and O’Toole said: “As long as we are a fit side, that’s the main thing.
“I think at times that maybe we lacked a little bit of sharpness over the season.
“When you look back at it, a couple of the teams might have been first to the ball, and have really looked sharper and fitter than us.
“That is something we need to address, and I am sure we will be better for it after a hard pre-season.
“That will stand us in good stead.”
O’Toole is currently recuperating after undergoing surgery on a groin injury that has been affecting him for the past couple of months.
He went under the knife in the week after being sent-off in the 1-1 home draw with Shrewsbury, and he believes it was crucial to have the operation done as quickly as possible to ensure he is fit and firing for the start of the new season.
“I have been carrying the injury for a while now, and I just needed to get the operation done,” said the former Bristol Rovers man, who ended the season as the club’s second top scorer with 12 goals, one behind striker Marc Richards.
“It is done now, so I am looking forward to being able to run and build it up and be ready for pre-season.
“I didn’t want to delay the operation any more, so it is done now and that will give me the best opportunity to get a whole pre-season in and be ready to go.”
As well as improving his form and goal scoring following the arrival of Edinburgh, O’Toole’s disciplanary record also took a marked turn for the better.
His dismissal for two bookings in that Shrews draw aside, O’Toole wasn’t booked in the 14 previous matches under Edinburgh, while he picked up 12 yellows in the 30 matches in which he featured under predecessor Rob Page.
The player himself puts that improvement down to feeling less frustrated than he did when the Welshman was in charge.
“The season was quite frustrating in a lot of ways, especially in the first part of it,” said O’Toole.
“I think since Justin has come in I have enjoyed my football a lot more, and it shows when you are not so frustrated and picking up silly bookings that you are annoyed at and maybe taking it out on the referee, or doing things you shouldn’t do.
“But I think that was just down to a lot of frustration with things, especially early on.
“My record has been pretty decent over the past couple of months, bar the last game, so hopefully that is a sign of things to come.”