Cobblers boss Chris Wilder paired Marc Richards with new signing James Collins for the first time at Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday, and he liked what he saw.
Both players scored in the 2-1 win at the Sky Bet Two League leaders, and Wilder revelled in the fact Richards and Collins ‘bullied’ the Pilgrims defence, giving them a ‘torrid time’.
Collins was signed last week on a loan deal from Shrewsbury Town until the end of the season.
The 25-year-old is a proven goalscorer at league two level and is a similar style of player to Richards, meaning many presumed the pair would be sharing the workload of ‘target man’ duties at Sixfields.
But Wilder was always planning on playing them together, and he is excited at the prospect of their partnership blossoming in the future.
“I think too much is looked into it in terms of who can play with who, and James is an intelligent footballer,” said Wilder.
“If we want him to play in behind as a number 10 then he can do, if we want to go and play two up the top with an old fashioned two centre forwards like we did on Tuesday night, then we can.
“I thought the two of them bullied the centre-halves at Plymouth, and I rate their two centre-halves highly, but I think Rico and Collo gave them a torrid time.
“Everything that went up to them stuck, and they linked things and managed to get us up the pitch which allowed us to play the football we did on the night.
“It wasn’t a free-flowing game, but if there was any football played it was by us and that was partly due to the fact that when the ball went up to them two, it stuck.”
As Richards and Collins get to know each other’s games over time then the partnership will surely only improve.
Wilder is in no doubt that will be the case, and said: “They are good players.
“Technically they are good, physically they are really good, mentally they are excellent, and tactically if we need to change the shape they can do it.
“If we need to play two up front and one in behind, they can do that, if we want to play one up and one in behind, if we play two up there, they adjust because they know the game and they know what is required.
“They are both mobile and similar sorts of players, but they are also both goalscorers and that is the most important thing.”
Richards and Collins are set to lead the line again at Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday (ko 3pm).
The Cobblers are likely to be without Lawson D’Ath, who has a groin strain, but Alfie Potter should be back in the squad after recovering from his rib injury.