Southend boss Phil Brown has confirmed the Blues were interested in buying defender Ryan Cresswell from Fleetwood in the summer - but were priced out of a deal.
The centre-back is likely to return to the Cobblers starting line-up to play against his former side on Saturday (January 3).
Town bought Cresswell on deadline day in the summer transfer window and he has scored twice in 16 appearances in claret and white so far.
The transfer ended a 14-month spell at Fleetwood for the 27-year-old, for whom the Cod Army paid £150,000 to sign from Southend a year previously.
Brown revealed Fleetwood wanted at least that much back for the player but does not think Northampton will have had to pay such an amount.
“I was certainly interested in going back in for Ryan at the start of the season,” Brown told the Southend Echo.
“However, it was to do with finances that we couldn’t carry it through.
“Fleetwood paid £150,000 for him from us and they wanted their money back so there was no way he was going to come to us on the cheap.
“If anything we were going to have to pay £150,000 for him ourselves which wasn’t going to happen.”
Chris Wilder secured a deal for Cresswell’s services in the summer and Brown does not believe it was for the £150,000 price he had been quoted by Fleetwood.
“Northampton had no prior relationship with Fleetwood and, while I don’t know what the deal was for him to go there, it wouldn’t have been as much as if he was going to come back to us,” said Brown.
“It was a shame but we had to pull away.”