Justin Edinburgh has hinted that Gaby Zakuani is going to have to bide his time before regaining his place in the Cobblers starting line-up.
The former Peterborough United man was arguably the Cobblers’ outstanding defensive performer in the first half of the season, but hasn’t played since January 2 due to a mixture of international duty and a hamstring injury.
The 30-year-old is now fully fit and has been an unused substitute for Town’s past two games at Southend United and Fleetwood.
The Cobblers were well beaten 3-0 at the Highbury Stadium at the weekend, with all three goals conceded of the soft variety, and there is a chance that could open the door for Zakuani to return at the heart of the defence for Tuesday night’s Sixfields date with fellow strugglers Oldham Athletic (ko 7.45pm).
But Edinburgh was non-committal when asked if the Democratic Republic of the Congo skipper could be in line for a playing return, and hinted the back four from the weekend may get the chance to redeem themselves.
“I think as a collective, the back four have had some really good periods in the game,” said the Cobblers boss.
“Individually, they will look at it and they wlll be disappointed with their contribution to the goals on Saturday, but I always say we win and lose as a team.
“Gaby is a very good player, he is a very experienced player, but I think we have to be fair to the players that have been playing and getting good results.
“But Gaby is in the forefront of my mind, and we know what he is capable of when he is needed.”
Edinburgh also reiterated his belief that the Cobblers have to be ‘more ruthless’, and start putting ‘teams to the sword’ when they are on top in games.
Town dominated the first half of the match at Fleetwood, but they wasted a series of gilt-edged chances, before gifting Devante Cole the opener for the home side just before the break, and two further goals rubbed salt in the wounds in the second half.
“We had opportunities and didn’t take them, in periods when we were well on top and controlling the game,” said the Cobblers boss.
“It’s not always about playing well, it’s about being ruthless and I think we saw that in Sunday’s League Cup final when Southampton were far the better side, and had good opportunities against Manchester United.
“But they didn’t take them and were punished by a team that has a ruthless edge about them and a winning mentality.
“There are a lot of positives for us to take at the moment.
“We are creating chances, and more times than not we have dispatched those, but if we are going to be where we want to be moving forward, then we have to put teams to the sword and be out of sight.
“We are creating really good chances, and have done in all the games since we have been here, but it is about us making sure we are bright in both boxes.
“As much as we are disappointed in not taking the chances, on the flip side we have to be more resolute and determined to make sure that ball does not end up in the back of our net.
“We look at all three goals from Saturday, and we certainly should have done better on all of those.”