Cobblers caretaker boss Dean Austin has warned his team that he’s only prepared to select players who will ‘play for the badge on the shirt’ in these final five games of the campaign.
Austin is set to take charge of his first game as a Football League manager on Tuesday evening when Northampton head to Blackpool for a must-win fixture in their battle to beat the drop.
I’ve told some of the players that they’ve got far more ability than I ever had and more raw attributes but the one thing no one ever accused me of is not giving 110 per cent and having the desire to win matches.
With three loan players sent back to their parent clubs last week, the 47-year-old’s first team selection at Bloomfield Road will reveal a lot about which players he trusts to get the Cobblers out of the relegation mire.
Austin may not have any managerial experience on his CV but, a former player and assistant manager in the Premier League, he has high standards and he expects his players to live up to them.
“I’ve got very high standards,” he said. “Some people can say this, that and the other and that it’s OK for you because you’ve been an assistant manager in the Premier League and you’ve been an assistant manager in the Championship but surely that’s where we should strive to want to be.
“So one of the things I’m saying to the guys and one of the challenges is: what do you want to be? Because I honestly believe we’ve got the ability and only you’re in control of your own destiny.
“I’ve told some of the players that they’ve got far more ability and more raw attributes than I ever had but the one thing no one ever accused me of is not giving 110 per cent and having the desire to win matches.
“I had that as a player and I’ve tried to take that into my coaching career and now for these five games I’m in charge and I’ve got to get that through to my players
“I’ve got to be able to give them my energy to be able to take onto the field.”
The sacking of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink last week was a consequence of the growing unrest among Cobblers supporters, who had grown frustrated with not only their team’s results but also how they were performing.
“What we’ve got to focus on is putting in a performance,” admitted Austin. “I understand the fans and I get it. They pay their money and if they don’t like what they see then they’re going to voice their opinion, even more so if you’re not getting results.
“But unfortunately they don’t see what we see everyday. I want to pick the players who I feel deserve to play.
“I want people to play for the badge on the shirt and that’s not just on a matchday, that comes on a Monday to a Friday.
“Those are the things that I’ve spoken about with the boys - about the standards of what we have in and around the training field, the level of our training and the concentration of our training.”
Cobblers have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the trip to Blackpool with Aaron Pierre and Aaron Phillips still sidelined and Ash Taylor suspended while John-Joe O’Toole is available for selection again having served a three-game ban.