Dean Austin has hailed the ‘serious quality’ of academy player Morgan Roberts after the teenager was handed his senior Cobblers debut against Oldham Athletic at the weekend.
Fittingly, the 17-year-old replaced another player who has come through the youth system at Sixfields, Shaun McWilliams, during injury-time of Saturday’s final game of the campaign, which finished 2-2.
Every single week during the course of the season I’ve been speaking to Jon Brady (U18s manager) on a Monday and it’s always about Morgan, he’s scored again, he’s played well again, got another assist.
A former student at Northampton School for Boys, Roberts is a left-sided attacking player who has impressed in the youth team this season, scoring and creating a number of goals. He’s been in the academy since the age of nine.
He was named on the bench for Town’s trip to Blackpool in Austin’s first game in caretaker charge last month before going one better on Saturday when given a brief run-out against the Latics, and Austin insisted afterwards that he had earned his opportunity.
“I just said to him to enjoy the game and try to land on the ball if you can because this boy has some serious quality if you can get him on the ball at the top end of the pitch,” said Austin.
“I wanted him to enjoy the experience because it wasn’t a publicity stunt for Morgan - he deserves this chance due to how well he’s done.
“Every single week during the course of the season I’ve been speaking to Jon Brady (U18s manager) on a Monday and it’s always about Morgan, he’s scored again, he’s played well again, got another assist etc.”
Roberts is not the only exciting teenager coming through the ranks at Sixfields. Fellow 17-year-old Shaun Whaler, a right-sided midfielder, was also in Town’s squad for their game at Bloomfield Road and might too have made his debut on Saturday but for injury.
Austin added: “Shaun Whaler has also done particularly well since January and he probably would have been on the bench as well on Saturday but he got a really bad knock in training on Thursday.
“Although he trained on Friday, I just didn’t want to take a risk with him even though it’s the last game of the season, but Morgan deserves his opportunity and I just told him he’s done the easy bit.
“The easy bit is getting to this stage, now he’s got to keep his feet on the floor and he’s got to crack on.
“He’s got good people behind him and he’s got a good family and he’s a great kid - he’s not the type of lad that will get his head in the clouds and change.”