Chris Wilder feels fit-again midfielder Lewis Hornby has ‘all the ingredients’ to make a big impact on the Cobblers first team.
The 19-year-old was an unused substitute in the 2-0 defeat at Southend United a fortnight ago and will be part of the matchday squad to face Plymouth Argyle at Sixfields on Saturday.
Hornby is back in full training after almost 20 months out with back and tendonitis problems and Wilder wants to see him challenge for a first-team place.
“We feel like we’ve got a player on our hands,” said the Cobblers boss. “This is the first time we’ve had a chance to see what he can do out on the training pitch and in games and it will be good to get him back.
“We’ve never known where he’s been because he’s had various problems since we’ve been here but he’s worked extremely hard and he’ll be delighted that he’s out of that environment with the physios and doing what he wants to do.”
And he added: “I’d like to see him pushing for a first-team place now because we like what we’ve seen of him so far.
“He’s an energetic player, he moves well and he wants to pass the ball, he is the ideal midfield player that we want.
“We don’t want people who just want to hook it on or smash it, he looks like he can pass it and he can run and compete so he has all the ingredients.”
Wilder also welcomed back central defenders Zander Diamond and Ryan Cresswell to fitness this week and has some difficult selection decisions to make in the forthcoming fixtures.
But he is happy to make those calls and is not concerned about upsetting any of the established members of the Northampton squad.
“I’m not that bothered what they think, to be honest, it’s part and parcel of their job,” he said. “You’ve got to want to stay in the side and do well.
“Players have to get on with it. They should react as proper professionals and if they’re in the team they need to do what it takes to make sure they stay in there, and if they are out of the team they have to do their utmost to get in.
“That’s what being a pro is about; it has to come from within. I have to motivate myself to drive the team forward and players have to do the same.
“Man management is a skill and an aspect of my job that I need to do but I don’t want to spend a lot of time asking people how they are and if they’re alright.
“Part of a club being competitive is competition for places and everyone from the chairman to our youngest supporter will be delighted that we have players battling it out for a first-team spot because it makes us a lot stronger.”