THE BIG KICK-OFF: Richards targeting improvement as the Cobblers prepare for new campaign

Cobblers skipper Marc Richards
Cobblers skipper Marc Richards

Skipper Marc Richards says the Cobblers are approaching the new football season with cautious optimism.

Town begin the new Sky Bet League One campaign on Saturday with a trip to Shrewsbury (ko 3pm).

Looking towards the play-offs maybe, or the top half of the table, should be our first aim, and then at Christmas time see where we are from there

Cobblers skipper Marc Richards

With both clubs having been involved in a relegation scrap last term, it’s a match both sides will fancy their chances of winning and getting the campaign off to a flyer.

Richards is certainly hoping that will be the case for the Cobblers, and also that in the longer term Town will not be flirting with that bottom four again.

Justin Edinburgh has brought in 12 new players over the summer, and expectation levels among the club’s supporters have been raised thanks to the financial boost of 5USport’s significant investment.

But Richards, for now at least, wants everybody to keep their feet firmly on the ground.

Asked what the ambition is for the campaign, Richards said: “To do better than we did last season will be a start.

“There was a lot of hype at the start of last year after the season before, and rightly so because we had had a fantastic season.

“But there was a lot of turnaround and a lot of change, and not just with the players it was the staff as well, so just securing our league one status last season was a success, and a step in the right direction.

“Now, looking towards the play-offs maybe, or the top half of the table, should be our first aim, and then at Christmas time see where we are from there.”

Richards is set to lead the attacking line at Shrewsbury after an injury-free pre-season, and that has been a relief for the 35-year-old.

“First and foremost for me it was about staying fit through pre-season and making sure I was available for selection on Saturday,” said the former Chesterfield man

“I have to take each step as it comes with my track record with Achilles problems.

“It has been a bit of a hindrance for me over the past couple of seasons, and resulted in me maybe sitting on the bench a few more times than I had hoped.

“But I feel really good, I have not felt any problems at all with my Achilles through pre-season, and long may that continue.”

DON’T miss today’s Chronicle & Echo, which features a 11 pages on the Cobblers, looking ahead to the season and this weekend’s opener against Shrewsbury Town. There are interviews, expert analysis and great pictures