Marc Richards welcomes Ivan Toney back to the forwards’ union at Sixfields this week, and does so with a word of advice to the teenager about dealing with the provocation of opposing players.
Toney has completed a three-game suspension for his off-the-ball Boxing Day scuffle with Bury defender Hayden White and is available for selection to face Dagenham this weekend.
He assured his manager and squad-mates that no punches were thrown in that incident and the consensus view from both sides is that the sending-off was hasty and that a yellow card for both players would have been the more calmer punishment.
But Richards will tell Toney he has to learn how to control himself in such situations, as he did when he was an emerging player.
“I’ve been sent off like that in the past and it’s part and parcel of learning the game that you don’t get involved in those sorts of tussles,” he said.
“I was involved in things like that before, and it’s something you have to learn quickly but it also comes with experience.
“The officials are there to do a job but if you don’t put yourself in that position and the other guy wants to go that way about doing things, you have to hope the officials see that and make a decision on what they see.”
The ‘rough stuff’ from defenders is, Richards feels, all part of the game.
“I’ve had plenty of bad treatment from defenders over the years and two or three times I’ve been sent off for something similar to what Ivan was sent off for,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s a heat of the moment thing. Ivan just showed he’s got a passion for the club and I think the way he plays shows that too.
“He wants to win flick-ons, he wants to score goals and he’s got everything he needs to be a top player, he just needs to learn how to be a top player.”