Cobblers boss Chris Wilder feels there is still much more to come from John-Joe O’Toole despite the midfielder’s recent improvement in form.
The midfielder set up Ricky Holmes’ winner against Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday after opening his goalscoring account in the 2-0 triumph at Exeter seven days earlier.
O’Toole should perhaps also have scored in the Dagenham game, opting to attempt a volleyed backheel instead of a more conventional finish when well placed 10 yards from goal.
“There’s definitely more to come from him,” said Wilder. “We’ll work him harder on the training ground because he’s up there ability wise but we want to see him getting around the pitch more.
“He can add to his goal tally and his assists and we all want that to work. “He has to do his part of the deal by working hard but he’s made a good start to the new year.
“Fingers crossed he can continue that. The supporters have taken to him and it isn’t always about what they think, but they don’t often get it wrong.
“They can see when a player is putting the effort in and they recognise that with John-Joe and with the team; that’s why I think we’re not getting unbelievable stick.”
Wilder feels O’Toole may have been ‘jolted’ into better performances and a desire to work harder by his loan spell at Southend, in which he started just a single game - against the Cobblers - before being recalled.
“One of the things we do as coaches and managers is ask ourselves if we picked the right team, if the tactics were right, if our subs were right and if the week was laid out right,” said Wilder, who gave O’Toole a three-year contract in the summer after his 15-goal haul for Bristol Rovers the previous season.
“I’ve always done that, you look at yourself first and foremost and I think that’s what good players do.
“They look at themselves and ask if they’ve done enough, if they’ve played well enough and whether they are getting the maximum out of their performances and their career.
“He (O’Toole) may have looked at it and thought ‘no, I need to do a little bit more’.
“We needed him to do more because of what we saw him doing at the top of his form at Bristol Rovers.
“He wasn’t doing that for us earlier this season and that’s a fact. Maybe something jolted him and he’ll move on from the experience.”