Cobblers boss Chris Wilder admits he is ‘not surprised’ that teenage striker Ivan Toney is still being linked with a move to clubs from the Sky Bet Championship and beyond.
Toney, who saw a £500-000-plus transfer to Wolverhampton Wanderers collapse at the last minute back in November, is still attracting rumours and speculation about his future.
The latest clubs to be linked with a possible move for the Cobblers youth team product are Norwich City and Bolton Wanderers, while scouts from several clubs monitored his progress throughout last season.
Wilder, who says there has been no approach from any club for Toney, believes the player is the best young striker in the bottom two divisions and is looking forward to the 19-year-old developing his game even further at Sixfields next season.
But the Town boss also accepts that Toney is going to attract attention from elsewhere.
Asked if he was aware of the speculation linking Toney with a switch to Bolton, Wilder said: “I am not surprised.
“I spoke with the chairman, and we haven’t had any approach, but I am not surprised there is speculation.
“Ivan had a solid season, with a really good start and a really good finish.
“In the middle part of the season he was knocked back a bit because of what happened (with Wolves), but I don’t see a better 19-year-old forward in the bottom two divisions than Ivan.
“If I was a Championship or Premier League club after a young player, and they are doing their homework and doing their recruitment well, then they should be looking at Ivan, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are.
“But he still has a lot to learn, and he is just getting on with it.”
Wilder also spoke of how impressed he was with the way Toney handled the disappointment of that move to Molineux breaking down.
It seemed certain that the striker was on his way to Wolves, with a fee being agreed between the clubs.
But the Championship side pulled the plug on the transfer, claiming there were issues with the results of Toney’s medical, something the Cobblers refuted.
And the fact that Toney went on to play injury-free for the rest of the campaign suggests they were right to do that.
Toney’s form did dip a little after the transfer fell through, but Wilder says he eventually got his head around what happened to him, and really came good towards the end of the season.
Toney ended up scoring 10 goals in what was his first full season as a professional, only trailing behind 18-goal leading scorer Marc Richards, which is a decent return,
“Ivan has had that experience now where there was a bit of speculation about him moving, and he has got through that experience at the back end of the season,” said Wilder.
“It is a difficult experience for a young player.
“One minute he is going to a top Championship club, and he’s on the ladder going forward, and then it doesn’t happen.
“But he recovered from that and you have to give him credit for that.
“The supporters got right behind him at the back end of the season, and when he comes in we have got a really good player for the start of the season.
“And if he does hit the ground running, we are all in a good position.”