Northampton’s impressive crop of youngsters have been urged to seize their opportunity by manager Dean Austin after seven academy-produced players featured in Saturday’s 4-0 friendly win at St Albans City.
As well as the now-established Shaun McWilliams and highly-rated striker Joe Iaciofano, goalkeeper James Goff, centre-back Jay Williams, Shaun’s brother Camron and midfielders Morgan Roberts and Sean Whaler have all played their part in Town’s pre-season victories over Northampton Sileby Rangers and St Albans.
Roberts, who alongside Whaler signed professionally with the club back in May, was on target in the 2-0 win over Sileby last Tuesday, scoring a well-placed second-half header to open the scoring, while Goff produced a couple of smart stops at Clarence Park on Saturday.
Ever since he took charge as caretaker boss at the end of last season, Austin has always made it clear that young players will get chances to impress under his leadership providing their attitude matches up with their ability.
Williams was the latest to be presented with an opportunity on Saturday when partnered next to the far more experienced Leon Barnett at centre-back.
“I thought that Jay was excellent,” enthused Austin afterwards. “He only came into the group on Friday and it wasn’t easy for him because this is a Conference South club who were in and around the play-offs all the way through last season.
There will always be chances for young players here. It doesn’t matter how young they are as long as they have the correct attitude and the desire, and be good players as well and we’ve got some good players here.
“So I thought he acquitted himself really, really well and I was so pleased for the young man.
“Then we also have Cam (McWilliams) come on in the second-half and he improves every time I see him because he’s a good listener.
“He listens, he always wants to improve himself and if you give him little bits of information, he takes it all on board. You always seen him incorporate new things into his game.
“With Morgan, we know how good he’s going to be but it’s just about time and letting him learn and develop because he’s a skinny little lad and we have to get some beef on him, but the future is very bright.”
Cobblers will step up their pre-season preparations with Tuesday’s friendly against Brackley before they fly to Spain for a week-long training camp, but that doesn’t mean the opportunities for young players will stop.
“One of the things I’ve spoken about with all the academy boys is that there will always be opportunities for young players at this club if you conduct yourself in the right manner and you show that you have the desire to want to play, to listen and to want to learn,” added Austin.
“There will always be chances for young players here. It doesn’t matter how young they are as long as they have the correct attitude and the desire, and be good players as well and we’ve got some good players here.”