Cobblers midfielder John-Joe O’Toole has been rewarded for his improved performances by being taken off the transfer list at Sixfields.
Town manager Chris Wilder made O’Toole available for sale or loan back in May, admitting the player had not hit the form expected of him in his opening season at the Cobblers.
Nobody came in for O’Toole and he remained transfer-listed, with Wilder insisted nothing had changed even when the player started and scored the only goal of the game in the opening day win at Bristol Rovers on August 8.
That proved to be a false dawn for the player, who was quickly returned to the fringes of the team, and he didn’t start another game until the 1-1 draw at AFC Wimbledon on September 29.
O’Toole took his chance to impress though, scoring the Cobblers equaliser and doing enough in that game to hold on to his place.
He has been one of the team’s outstanding perfomers since, shining in central midfield alongside Joel Byrom, as the Cobblers have risen from a mid-table team to promotion challengers.
The player’s improvement in performances on the pitch, allied with an excellent work ethic in training, has led to Wilder taking O’Toole, who is contracted at Sixfields until the summer of 2016, off the transfer list.
“Everybody has seen that John-Joe’s performances recently have been outstanding,” said the Cobblers boss.
“I had a chat with John-Joe on Thursday morning regarding his future, and he is playing in a manner that shows why we brought him to the football club.
“We are delighted with that, and his standards are first-class.
“From him coming in it has taken a little while for him to get himself going, and we will look at all aspects of that, from a coaching point of view, and the player will look at it from his point of view.
“But we are delighted with his performances, and however you want to write it, he has come off the transfer list and he has got himself going again.
“It is now important the he keeps those standards up, and he keeps performing in that manner, because when he does, as he has over the past five or six games, he has been pivotal to the really good run we are having.”
O’Toole was brought to the club as a creative player with an eye for goal, with him having scored 17 times for Bristol Rovers in the season before his move to Sixfields.
And while he is still contributing to the team’s attacking efforts, it is his work at the other end of the pitch that has particularly impressed Wilder.
“John-Joe wants to get forward and wants to create,” said Wilder. “But we have difficult defensive tests as well, at AFC Wimbledon, at Wycombe, where midfield players need to put themselves in good positions.
“That part of John-Joe’s game has really impressed us as well, his work-rate has been outstanding, he has been doing extra work and has been looking after himself.
“The reason I brought him to the football club was to produce performances like he has been recently.
“It has taken a littlle bit of time, but we are delighted with his efforts and long may it continue.”
Wilder was speaking ahead of Saturday’s Sky Bet League Two clash with Stevenage at Sixfields.
The team’s only fresh injury concern revolves around central defender Ryan Cresswell, who was taken off early in the win over Carlisle United due to a groin strain.
Wilder admitted Cresswell is ‘struggling’ to be fit for the weekend, with Zander Diamond set to come in for his first start since September 29.