Manager Justin Edinburgh has welcomed the return of Cobblers pair Brendan Moloney and Alex Revell and hopes both will provide him with tougher selection decisions for their final four games of the season.
Moloney’s appearance against Sheffield United on Saturday was his first start in a competitive match since November when he suffered a knee injury and had to undergo an operation.
Having gradually built up his match fitness with a series of substitute appearances, Edinburgh chose Saturday’s game against the high-flying Blades as the right time to recall him to the starting XI.
The decision was harsh on Aaron Phillips, who had been excellent in previous weeks, but Edinburgh’s call paid off as Moloney proceeded to produce a man of the match performance, impressing with his marauding, penetrating runs from right-back.
With Neal Eardley now not even getting in the squad, Edinburgh admits the right-back berth has given him several headaches – but it’s something which he relishes.
“At right-back we certainly have an array of talent and the competition is fierce, and in different ways they all offer a lot of positives,” said the Sixfields boss.
“It was a tough decision and difficult to leave Aaron Phillips out because he hasn’t done anything wrong but I just felt that against Sheffield United we could exploit them and I thought Brendan did that.
“He took the game to them and it was great to have him back. He’s worked tirelessly.
“He’s had a stop-start season but to be voted man of the match on his first game back shows his quality.
“All three in my time here have been fantastic and all have played a big part and that’s what we’ve got to try and get throughout the squad and if we do that we’ll be in a very strong position.
That’s the kind of player we need to be bringing off the bench for the competition to be as fierce as it needs to be to make sure we’re not in this position this time next year and maybe we’re chasing down the tails of the top seven or eight teams in this league.
“That’s where we’ve got to set our standards.”
Striker Alex Revell also returned to the fold on Saturday after three months out with a calf injury, replacing fellow forward Michael Smith for a 20-minute cameo.
“I’m absolutely delighted with Revs,” added Edinburgh. “He’s a top professional and I’m so pleased he’s back.
“I lost him in my first game here after 20 odd minutes and he’s had a really tough time with the passing of his father.
“It was very difficult circumstances and also with the setback but that’s the kind of player we need to be bringing off the bench for the competition to be as fierce as it needs to be to make sure we’re not in this position this time next year and maybe we’re chasing down the tails of the top seven or eight teams in this league.
“I’m really pleased and hopefully we can get him a few more minutes between now and the end of the season which would be excellent for Alex and for us.
“We have the nucleus of a good squad here and if we can get the right recruitment in the summer I certainly feel that we’ll be in a better position than we are right now.”