Kelvin Langmead believes the Cobblers’ young players have fully justified their inclusion in the first team and that their selection is not just a token gesture by the club.
Town named a team whose midfield had just 18 senior starts between them at Bradford City on Tuesday night, and they were narrowly defeated on penalties after a two-hour, six-goal classic.
The performance has presented manager Aidy Boothroyd with something of a selection headache for Saturday’s Wycombe game at Sixfields (ko 3pm), with senior professionals Ben Harding and Chris Hackett back to bolster the midfield ranks.
But Langmead says the club’s youngsters are doing an important job and can consider themselves to be vital components in a side that is beginning to pick up a little momentum, scoring seven goals in its past two away games.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries and we’ve missed a lot of key players for large parts of the season, but the young lads have really stepped up,” said Langmead.
“They have needed to be looked after but they’ve all gelled brilliantly and performed in the team.
“Ivan (Toney) is our youngest ever player and it just shows you how talented he is that he came on and made his debut at just 16.
“Lewis Hornby and Lewis Wilson as well, they’re not just getting through the games, they’re stepping up and being big players and Ivan did that for us as well.
“Ish (Demontagnac) had a fantastic game for us too, everyone gave everything and anyone who watched this game will know this is a group of lads that stick together.”
Tuesday night’s game at Bradford City was a bittersweet one for Langmead, who scored what he felt was the best goal of his career to put Town 3-2 up but then missed a penalty in a shoot-out eventually won by Bradford.
But his overwhelming feeling when reflecting on the game was one of pride.
“Me and Danny held our hands up for the penalties but I couldn’t have been more proud to be the captain of this football club on Tuesday night,” he said.
“The lads worked so hard for everything, we were putting our bodies on the line and it made me so proud.
“We were all very disappointed and we were so close to going through.
“Being honest, the most disappointing thing was the third goal for them, it was a sloppy goal and we should have seen the game out.”