Zakuani relishes the competition as he and Diamond aim to sparkle together

Zakuani in action on his Cobblers debut at the weekend. Picture by Kirsty Edmonds
Zakuani in action on his Cobblers debut at the weekend. Picture by Kirsty Edmonds
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Gabriel Zakuani believes he and fellow centre-back Zander Diamond can forge a strong partnership at the back for the Cobblers this season, although he is well aware of the club’s strong competition for places.

Zakuani was one of the six summer recruits to debut on Saturday and he continued his impressive pre-season form with a commanding performance alongside Diamond as the two restricted Fleetwood to few opportunities.

The former Posh man says their respective styles suit each other and has the makings of a strong understanding, but with Rod McDonald and now Lewin Nyatanga in the background, neither can afford to slip up if they want to remain in the team.

Zakuani said: “We’ve looked pretty good together in pre-season and we’ve trained together quite a few times as well so we’re getting that understanding.

“He’s learning my game and I’m learning his and we’re covering each other quite well because I think our styles complement each other.

“We’re very different sort of defenders and I think together we’re looking very strong because I’m quick across the ground so I do a lot of covering and I’ll attack everything and head everything whereas Zander seems to be the composed one.

Gabriel Zakuani starred against Barnsley and it was his header which forced the error from Davies for Northampton's equaliser

Gabriel Zakuani starred against Barnsley and it was his header which forced the error from Davies for Northampton's equaliser

“He calms the play down and talks a lot and I talk a lot as well so we’re quite similar in that respect, but I seem to do a lot of the dirty work.

“I knew the competition before I came. Rod has done well and he’s looking very good in training so he’s kept me going.

“I came here to play and I’ll try to play as well as I can and hopefully that’s enough for the gaffer to keep picking me, but I think having players pushing you for the shirt keeps your game up so that’s very good for the club.”

Northampton beat several clubs to the signature of Zakuani and the main reason he chose Sixfields was down to their stunning march to the League Two title last term.

“I look at the success last year under difficult circumstances and that showed the character of the players and I’m a winner and want to be part of a winning squad,” he added.

“The manager showed a lot of belief in me as well. He knew a lot about me and made it clear I was one of his top targets so that was important.

“I’ve shown the passion I like to play with and I think the fans have taken to me. I’ve had a bit of stick but hopefully I’ll win them over!”

The Cobblers opened their account for the season with a 1-1 draw against Fleetwood at the weekend, a result which left Zakuani with mixed feelings.

“I think you can look at it two ways,” he said. “You could say it was two points dropped on the balance of play but we’ll take the positives because it was a positive performance.

“I thought we defended very well throughout the game, but the goal was something we could have prevented so we’ll take a look at it and try to improve.

“I think we limited them to few opportunities and that’s a positive and now we’ll look to kick-on.”