Northampton Town midfielder Harding plays down Hornby expectations

BACK IN ACTION - Ben Harding returned from injury in Saturday's 3-1 win over Wycombe (Picture: Sharon Lucey)
BACK IN ACTION - Ben Harding returned from injury in Saturday's 3-1 win over Wycombe (Picture: Sharon Lucey)
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Cobblers midfielder Ben Harding believes it will be important to avoid putting too much pressure on emerging teenage prospect Lewis Hornby.

The duo played together in central midfield in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Wycombe Wanderers in what was Harding’s first game back after an ankle injury and the latest instalment of Hornby’s fledgling Town career.

The 17-year-old has made a starting place his own following an injury to Luke Guttridge and the decision to switch Ben Tozer to central defence.

Harding feels it might be counter-productive to raise expectation levels for the Northampton-born youth-teamer but admits he has been a key performer for the in-form team in recent weeks.

“I’ve watched all the games since I’ve been injured and it’s been going really well,” said Harding. “The young lads who have come in because of the injuries we’ve had have all performed very well and that’s good to see.

“Those players have proved they can help the team get results and they deserve to stay in the side now.

“When I first came to the club you could see he (Hornby) was quite a talent and this year he has established himself in the team.

“He’s been training well and he looks like he’s going to be a good player but it’s important not to put too much pressure on him because when you’re a young lad that pressure can be quite hard to deal with.

“So he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing.”

Harding is now available for selection after missing eight weeks of first-team action with three ruptured ankle ligaments but admits he is not yet firing on all cylinders.

“I’m not match fit but I’m pleased with my performance,” he said. “I probably didn’t do as much running as I normally would in a game but I’m happy with how I did overall.

“I think it was a good result. Perhaps we’ve given them too many chances in the second half and we’re not pleased with that but ultimately we’ve come out of it 3-1 winners so we’re very happy.

“The injury was a niggly one more than anything. Luckily I didn’t have to have surgery, which was the main thing, and I’ve had a few training sessions with it.”