Cobblers skipper Marc Richards believes teenage striker Ivan Toney is only going to get better.
For the past week, Toney has been the subject of transfer interest from Premier League giants Newcastle United.
Talks have taken place between the Magpies and Cobblers over a possible move for Toney, but as yet there has been no official bid.
That means he is very much still a Northampton Town player, and the 19-year-old is expected to feature for the Cobblers’ in their pre-season friendly at Burgess Hill on Saturday (ko 3pm).
Richards knows all about Toney’s attributes and ability after watching his teenage team-mate grow and improve throughout last season.
The 32-year-old front man he isn’t surprised that Toney, who was also the subject of a £500,000-plus offer from Wolverhampton Wanderers last November, is attracting interest from big clubs.
And Richards, who began his career at Premier League side Blackburn Rovers, believes Toney has the world at his feet.
“I wasn’t at the club the season Ivan started, and when he got into the team,” said Richards, who signed from Chesterfield last summer.
“But last season you could tell from the start to the end that he had come a long way.
“He was learning to stay on his feet a little bit more than he was at the start of the season, and was getting a bit stronger.
“He was getting his backside into the centre halves to try and win fouls rather than just falling over and hoping for a foul. You can tell he has the qualities to be a good player, and this season I have no doubt that if he starts well, has a good pre-season, he can do whatever he wants to do.”
So what has Toney got that makes him so special?
“He has a spark, and he also has that annoyance factor for centre-halves and defenders,” said Richards, who has scored 155 goals in his senior career.
“He will come on, he will put himself about, he is annoying, he gets his foot in, gets his elbows in and defenders don’t like it.
“They try and give him some back and he just laughs it off, and I think that annoys them even more.”
The boy can also play, and Richards, who was talking before the interest from Newcastle materialised, feels Toney can have a great season for Northampton if that move to the north east doesn’t happen, and he stays at Sixfields.
“I think Ivan has the qualities to tear up league two this season,” said the Town skipper.
“He is a year older, a year more experienced as has that full season under his belt, and we should hope for big things from him.
“He scored 10 goals last season, and if he does improve on that, then brilliant, that is only good for the squad.
“And he should be looking to improve on that, he should be looking to double his tally.”