Marc Richards has opened up about his frustrating start to the Cobblers’ season.
The Town striker has been a peripheral figure for Rob Page’s team so far, with a troublesome Achilles problem restricting him to just two starts and a clutch of substitute appearances.
But the 34-year-old says he is confident that, thanks to a course of shockwave therapy, his injury problems are behind him and he can concentrate on doing what he does best - getting out on the pitch and scoring goals.
Richards played for more than half an hour of last Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Chesterfield and the final 20 minutes of the EFL Cup defeat to Manchester United, and will be hopeful of playing a part in this weekend’s Sixfields date with Southend United as he aims to ‘make this season a good one’.
“I haven’t played too many minutes this season with the Achilles problems I have had, but hopefully I am over them now,” said Richards, who has been the Cobblers’ top scorer for the past two seasons.
“I have been having treatment over the past four or five weeks, and hopefully I can now play a bigger part.
“I have not been training really at all, for the past month.
“So I have just been available to go on the bench for the games, and I have not really expected to have come on in any of the games because I have not trained, and I am not match fit.
“I have been there in case the gaffer wanted to sling me on for the last few minutes if we were chasing a game or needed a goal, then he could just chuck me on.
“It has been a frustrating start to the season for me, but I played 75 minutes in a reserve game the other week and got on the scoresheet which I was happy about, and I trained for the seven days prior to the Chesterfield game which is something I haven’t done since the end of pre-season.
“Hopefully now, and keeping my fingers crossed, I can try and kick on and make this season a good one.”
So, what is shockwave therapy? And what does it mean to the schedule of a professional footballer?
“It feels like a little electrical shock into the area, and it’s something you have for once a week for four or five sessions,” said the former Chesterfield and Port Vale man.
“It has been a month now and I have been having it every Wednesday, and the thing is you can’t train for two days after you have had the treatment. I wanted to be available for Tuesday games and Saturdays as well, so Wednesday was the only day I could have it.
“It has been a long four weeks, but I am feeling a lot better.”
With hindsight, Richards admits that he possibly should have opted for the shockwave treatment on his Achilles earlier than he did, but he says he was just so keen to help the Cobblers get their season off to a flying start.
“I went into the first game of the season and my Achilles was sore,” recalled Richards.
“I wanted to play and spoke to the gaffer before game, telling him I was desperate to play, but I don’t think I did myself justice.
“Looking back, the better option would have been to maybe have come out at that point and to get the Achilles right.
“I had the operation at the end of last season which has helped, but not helped enough, so I have been having the shockwave therapy.
“I have been undergoing that for the past four weeks and it is the best option for me, to make sure I can go through the whole season without resting, and being injury free with my Achilles.”
Richards’ presence has obviously been missed on the pitch, but the blow of his absence on a regular basis has been softened considerably by the presence and form of summer signing Alex Revell.
The former Milton Keynes Dons man has been one of the players of the season to date, and has netted five times.
He has quickly become a fans’ favourite with his work ethic and attitude, and Richards is relieved he has settled quickly.
“Alex Revell has been brilliant for us, he has scored a few goals is doing well,” said the Town skipper. "Everybody can see what he brings to the team, and it has taken the pressure off myself a little bit, because with him coming in and doing so well it meant I could be a bit more relaxed in what I am doing.
“I could get my treatment knowing Alex is doing a job and the team are doing well.”