Crooks facing at least six weeks out as Cobblers injury problems continue

Matt Crooks is out for at least six weeks due to a knee injury
Matt Crooks is out for at least six weeks due to a knee injury

Key Cobblers midfielder and top scorer Matt Crooks is facing at least six weeks on the sidelines due to the knee injury he picked up at Milton Keynes Dons last week.

The former Rangers man is seeing a specialist today (Weds), and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is keeping his fingers crossed the diagnosis is that the injury will heal without the need for an operation.

Leon Barnett is out for four weeks with an Achilles injury

Leon Barnett is out for four weeks with an Achilles injury

But the Town boss is not ruling out the possibility that Crooks may need to go under the knife, and if that is the case he could be out of action for even longer.

There is further bad news on the injury front for the Cobblers, with central defender Leon Barnett set to be out for at least a month with an Achilles problem, while loan striker Chris Long will not be rushed back as the club tries to get to the bottom of his hamstring issue.

On the plus side, there is good news on Brendan Moloney, John-Joe O’Toole, Shaun McWilliams and Sam Hoskins.

Moloney was taken off towards the end of Tuesday night’s Checkatrade Trophy clash with Peterborough, but Hasselbaink has confirmed it was just fatigue and the Irishman should be okay for Saturday’s Sky Bet League One date with Bristol Rovers.

Cobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

Cobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

Midfielder McWilliams is also available for selection having recovered from the cut foot he suffered in the win over Portsmouth last month, while Hoskins is back in training.

The attacking midfielder rolled his ankle in training last week, but is well on the mend and will be back very soon, and there is also very encouraging news on O’Toole.

The former player of the year has yet to feature this season due to a groin problem, but he has been training this week, and today is set to join in with the first team for the first time, although on a non-contact basis.

But there is little doubt that the news on Crooks, who is the club’s top scorer this season with three goals, is a major blow.

He has injured the same knee that he damaged while on loan from Rangers at Scunthorpe in April, and Hasselbaink is now hoping the 23-year-old will avoid having to go under the knife.

“For Matt, it is the same knee he had a problem with (last season), and it was unfortunate as it was an extension of the knee,” said the Cobblers boss.

“He is going to have another meeting with the specialist today, and then after that we should know more and are keeping our fingers crossed.”

Asked if the player may have to undergo an operation, Hasselbaink said: “It could be (an option), but we don’t know yet.

“We are hoping that the specialist will says that it will be a maximum six weeks, and if that is the case then we can do that in house, with extra treatment and strengthening.”

On Barnett’s injury, Hasselbaink said: “It is unfortunate for Leon, as after the Rotherham game he had a problem with his Achilles.

“It is the same problem Marc Richards had in the past and we will miss him, as he is going to be out for at least four weeks.”

Striker Long hasn’t played since he was taken off during the first half of the 1-0 defeat to Bradford City on September 23, and he is set to be missing from the first team scene for another two weeks at least.

“We are going to be very cautious with Chris, and we want him to be right before he joins the group,” said Hasselbaink. “There will be no short cuts for him.

“He needs a proper run of games, and I think if we wush him back too early he is going to get the same problem again.

“On Tuesday, he saw the chiropractor for his back so that the hamstring could settle, and from tomorrow we are going to start speeding it up.

“We would think it will be another 10 days for him.”

Hasselbaink is ‘hopeful’ Moloney will be fit for the weekend, and he is also confident O’Toole is nearing a first team return.

“John-Joe is on the pitch, he is getting better, and I think today he is training for the first time with the group as a floater so there will be no contact yet,” said the Town manager.

“But he is building it up, and that is very encouraging.”

Also out of action is right-back Aaron Phillips, who is recovering from a thigh strain.