Paul Wilkinson says he had ‘no hesitation’ in leaving his under-21 coaching role at Barnsley to become the assistant manager to boss Rob Page at the Cobblers.
The 51-year-old was the professional development coach at Oakwell with the Tykes having just won promotion to the Sky Bet Championship, but admits he couldn’t resist the chance to return to working in senior football and the first team environment.
Wilkinson, who was u21 coach at Norwich before moving to Barnsley, played with Northampton boss Page at Watford and also coached him during his stint as assistant to Dave Jones at Cardiff City, and he is looking forward to teaming up with the Welshman again.
“Rob was at Watford when I was a player, he was there as a young lad,” said Wilkinson, who has also coached at Grimsby Town and Leeds United.
“When I was at Cardiff as a coach he came in there for a spell as a player as well, so I have know Pagey for a long time.
“He’s a great football lad, with great football knowledge and I am really looking forward to working with him.
“I had no hesitation when he approached me about the job, and he is a person I see as a young, up and coming manager, and I am delighted to be part of his team.”
And returning to the first team environment was another key element for Wilkinson.
“It is a massive pull because everybody wants to be involved in first team football and I have been around first team football for many years,” said the former Everton and Nottingham Forest frontman.
“Doing the under-21s for the past year or two has been really good, and I have really enjoyed it at Norwich and at Barnsley, but getting back into a first team structure is important to me at this present time.
“Having known Pagey for a long time, I am really looking forward to working with him, and Paddy Kenny and John (Harbin, performance coach) as well.”
“The target for the team now is to do as well as possible, and the important thing is to continue to build on the success of last season.”
The surroundings at Sixfields are familiar to Wilkinson, who spent 18 months at the club as a player at the back end of his career.
It’s fair to say he didn’t have a dream time with the Cobblers, scoring just one goal in a 20-appearance stay that saw him suffer with injury problems.
“It was towards the end of my career when I came here with Ian Atkins, and I had 18 months at the club,” said Wilkinson.
“There are a lot of things to look back on and I am looking forward to the future now.
“A lot of things have happened for me in the past 18 years, and it has come to a decision where I have been able to make this move here now and I am looking forward to it.
“When I left Northampton I went into coaching at Leeds, and then went from Leeds to Grimsby.
“I was lucky enough to follow Lennie Lawrence to Cardiff, and spent 10 great years there with Lennie and then Dave Jones, and then went on to Sheffield Wednesday with Dave.
“After leaving there I went to Norwich, and then on to Barnsley and now down to here.
“I have been extremely lucky throughout my football career that I have managed to stay in the game for all of these years, and I am looking forward to hopefully having a lot of good years at Northampton now.”