Matt Crooks may have to wait a few more days for his first taste of Cobblers action with manager Justin Edinburgh aware of the dangers of throwing him in too early and risking injury.
The 23-year-old, who sealed his switch from Ibrox to Sixfields on Tuesday afternoon, sat out Town’s third pre-season friendly at Frome Town last night despite travelling with the squad to Somerset.
But the midfielder is close to full fitness and could well play a part at AFC Rushden & Diamonds tonight, although it’s at the Dog & Duck Stadium against Kettering on Saturday where he’s most likely to make his first Cobblers appearance.
Edinburgh praised the work of everyone behind the scenes at Sixfields in ensuring Northampton beat several rival clubs in the race for Crooks’ signature, and now it’s all about finding the right moment to integrate him into the team.
“Andy Melville and James Whiting worked fantastically hard on it,” revealed the Cobblers boss. “They worked tirelessly to get it done and I can’t thank them enough to get the deal over the line.
“It was difficult at times but we maintained it and I’m absolutely delighted to get Matt on-board.
“We look forward to introducing him into the group and hopefully come the weekend we’ll be able to get some minutes into his legs.”
Meanwhile, tonight’s fourth friendly against AFC Rushden & Diamonds, which was upgraded to a first-team fixture on Monday, will again be used by Edinburgh to further build-up his squad’s fitness levels.
The starting XI from Town’s 4-0 win over Frome - which included five new signings - will start from the bench this evening, while the team who played the final 30 minutes on Tuesday will play the first hour.
“We’ll spin it around so the ones who came on for 30 minutes on Tuesday will start the game and do an hour and likewise the ones who did 60 will do half-an-hour,” Edinburgh explained.
“That will leave us ready to go into a full 90 minutes and that’s when you seem to get a bit more fluency in the play and it becomes more about the shape and the formation of the team rather than the fitness.
“We look forward to the weekend and the following week.”