Defender Phillips determined to make the most of his Cobblers opportunity
It's a fact of life being a footballer, that there are times when a player's misfortune leads to opportunity knocking for somebody else.
That somebody else may be an enemy or a rival, they may be a friend, but football is littered with countless instances where players have made the most of being in the right place at the right time to take their chance.
And Aaron Phillips is hoping he can take his big chance at Sixfields over the next couple of months.
The unfortunate party on this occasion is Brendan Moloney, who has been ruled out of action for up to eight weeks after he underwent a knee operation on Monday, and that has opened the door of opportunity for Phillips.
A summer signing from Coventry City, the 23-year-old started the season in the team - as Moloney was also injured in the early weeks of the campaign - but he has had to wait patiently on the sidelines since the middle of August following the Irishman’s return to fitness.
But another bout of injury woe for Moloney meant Phillips was recalled for the 1-0 defeat to Bolton 12 days ago when he performed with assurance, and the former Sky Blues man can now look forward to an extended run in the team, although he admits he has sympathy for his team-mate.
“Brendan has done very well in the team, and it is horrible for him to get an injury,” said Phillips.
“But I will now be doing the best I can for the team.”
So, is there a rivalry between the club’s two right-backs?
“There are always laughs and jokes between us, but it is absolutely fine,” said Phillips.
“It is one of those where we are both fighting for one place, and it is good to have the competition. It keeps you on your toes, and makes us both push on more and more.”
The start against Bolton was Phillips’ first in the league since the 0-0 draw with AFC Wimbledon on August 20.
Since then there have been a couple of fleeting substitute appearances and three starts in the Checkatrade Trophy, as well as a handful of reserve team friendlies, but that has been it as far as game time is concerned.
It can’t be easy to stay focused and match fit with so little action, but Phillips says the training regime at Sixfields is designed to keep everybody in the squad in shape so they are ready when needed - and that he also likes to put in that little bit extra.
“It is hard, but you have to keep on going and I will never give up,” said Phillips, whose father David was a former Wales international, and was part of the Coventry team that won the 1987 FA Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur.
“I have to just keep fighting for my place, working hard in training and doing extra stuff. I have a chance now, and I will just do as best as I can, and that is the thing about doing the extra stuff as well as training.
“Being match-fit is different to doing stuff on the training field, but you do as much as you can, work as hard as you can, and do extra stuff.
“You do extra running, extra bike sessions, swimming sessions, everything, so that when it comes to the stage that you are called upon, you can give it 100 per cent and be as fit as you can be.”
And he added: “I thought against Bolton, I put in a much better performance than I put in at the start of the season, and I am going to push on now. I want to show everybody how good I am, give it everything, and keep improving and keep getting the results for the club.”
Phillips was as frustrated as everybody else last Sunday when the FA Cup second round clash at Stourbridge was called off less than two hours before kick-off due to a frozen pitch.
The players were on the coach and on their way to the game when they got the news, and although not ideal, Phillips said such setbacks are all part of being a footballer.
“It was a bit annoying, as I was looking forward to playing again having played the previous week,” he said. “I was hoping to keep that run going, so it was frustrating.
“It is annoying because you get hyped up for playing, and then you get told the game is off, but it is also part and parcel of the job. We now have to go there next Tuesday, and I am sure we will be as prepared for the game as we were on Sunday.”
The Cobblers return to Sky Bet League One action on Saturday when they go to Port Vale - the club manager Page left to take over at Sixfields in the summer.
Town are on a four-match losing streak in the league, but Phillips insists confidence is still high, saying: “The spirit is good and everybody is up and firing, we can’t wait for this weekend. This is expecially one for the gaffer this week.
“The last couple of weeks I think the team has performed quite well, but it’s just been the odd goal that has cost us.
“We have been up against tough teams, but I thought we performed well, and certainly against Bolton.
“We were a little disappointed not to get a result from that one, but I am sure this week at Port Vale we can get the three points.”