Justin Edinburgh admits ‘recruitment is the key to everything’ as he continues to work hard behind the scenes to rebuild the Cobblers squad ahead of the new Sky Bet League One season.
Town’s season ended two weeks ago, and to date it has been more about who won’t be playing at Sixfields next season rather than who will be.
The club’s retained list saw the departure of first team players such as Zander Diamond, Adam Smith, Paul Anderson and Neal Eardley, while Rod McDonald, Jak McCourt and Harry Beautyman were transfer-listed and urged to find new clubs.
The six loan players that had been utilised since the turn of the year also returned to their parent clubs, and last week saw Town confirm that Gaby Zakuani will also be leaving, with the club and defender failing to agree to terms on a new deal.
There has only been one new signing to date, winger Daniel Powell arriving from Milton Keynes Dons, while John-Joe O’Toole and Marc Richards have signed new deals, and Matt Taylor has also committed to the club after triggering an appearance clause in his contract .
It all means the Cobblers squad is looking pretty light at the moment.
The transfer-listed McDonald is the only registered central defender, while the 14 players under conract and wanted by Edinburgh includes youth team graduates James Goff and Joe Iaciofano, as well as Leon Lobjoit who has joined the club from UCL Division One side Buckingham Town.
Edinburgh has stated that he wants a squad of 19 or 20 ‘first team ready’ players, so that probably doesn’t include the likes of Goff and Iaciofano, meaning plenty of players are going to have to be signed.
And the Cobblers boss knows he has to get those signings right.
“This is the most important time,” said Edinburgh
“This is where your recruitment is the key to everything and we have to work hard now to get the right players and personnel into this football club.
“I will have to try and take some time out and have a couple of short breaks, as I need to recharge the batteries as it has been an indifferent season for me personally.
“But it has been a satisfying one since I have been at this club, in terms of the imbalance and limitations we have in the squad, it all in all was a job accomplished and I take heart and pride from that.
“But we have to kick on, and we need to work hard now to take the team forward.”
Edinburgh has been working hard for several months, targeting the players he believes will strengthen the Cobblers squad.
He says that the final decision on all signings will be down to him, but that he does search out the views of his staff around him, such as assistant boss Dave Kerslake, and the club’s head of recruitment Andy Melville.
“You have to listen to other people’s opinions, it can’t just be mine,” said Edinburgh.
“We have spoken and will continue to do that, but I think it has to still be my final decision because they are going to be my players.
“The ones we have re-signed, the ones we have kept, they are all my decisions, but we do have discussions among ourselves.”
And he added: “Andy Melville has been working tirelessly and is somebody who comes to the fore now.
“He’s not really seen on the touchline or in the dugout, but me and Andy have been working together to get a list together, and now we have to work hard to get players in.”
The Town manager has already stated that he wants to get the players in to bolster the squad as quickly as possible, but is prepared to be patient if he has to.
“It is one of those where it can become frustrating though, as it is out of your hands as you are waiting for people to give you answers,” said Edinburgh.
“You have to understand that people will use your offers to try and get better ones, but that is football and you have to deal with that.”
Contracted players for 2017/18: Brendan Moloney, David Buchanan, Marc Richards, Alex Revell, Sam Hoskins, Shaun McWilliams, Aaron Phillips, John-Joe O’Toole, Leon Lobjoit, David Cornell, Matt Taylor, James Goff, Joe Iaciofano, Daniel Powell
Under contract but transfer-listed: Jak McCourt, Harry Beautyman, Raheem Hanley, Rod McDonald