Plagued by injury and personal tragedy, 2017 has not been kind to Alex Revell, but now back fit and in the team, the Cobblers man is aiming to make up for lost time.
The 10-goal striker, a summer signing by Rob Page, flew out of the traps and raced to eight goals inside 15 games this season before the troubles began.
Just two goals since October 1, largely owing to factors out of his control, coupled with mixed fortunes for Northampton on the pitch have turned his first Sixfields campaign into a story of what might have been.
The initial calf injury, sustained against former club Milton Keynes Dons in Justin Edinburgh’s first game as manager, was predicted to keep him out for six weeks but, just as he looked set to return, a setback in training turned a manageable six-week absence into three long and frustrating months sat on the sidelines.
But finally back in the squad, Revell was thrown on by Edinburgh for the final 20 minutes of Saturday’s clash with Sheffield United.
He saw little of the ball and spent most of his time chasing lost causes but, for Revell, it was all about getting back out there.
“It’s been hard watching but the setback I had was something that couldn’t be helped unfortunately,” he explained.
“I tore my calf and for some reason it just took a bit longer and the circumstances outside haven’t helped but it is what it is and I’m back now and I’ve worked really, really hard with the people behind the scenes.
“I’m strong now and I’ve been desperate to get back and it was nice to get back out there on Saturday.
“Hopefully I can get a few more minutes in the last few games of the season and get ready for next year.”
We’ve just got to keep going. There are less points to accumulate and I think as a group we want another couple of wins before the end of the season and that’s our aim.Justin Edinburgh
Saturday’s late defeat to Sheffield United keeps Northampton on 51 points and six clear of relegation, but even if they achieve the expected and stay up, the season will still go down as a disappointing one in Revell’s eyes.
“This year, we’re disappointed to be where we are because I think we’re better than what we’ve shown,” he admitted.
“But we’re ready for next year now and it’s given us a grounding for next season and we know what’s going to lie ahead of us now.
“I think the results we need to get better at are against the teams we feel we should be beating because we’re not sometimes and if we can improve that you’ll see us higher up the league than where we are at the moment.”
Just like previous games against Bolton, Bradford and Scunthorpe this season, Saturday’s battling performance but frustrating result was another example of Northampton pushing one of the division’s finest teams all the way before coming up short.
Again it was a late goal that undid earlier hard work but, with four games to go including three against sides below them, Revell wants to harness the positive elements of his side’s display and finish their campaign with a flurry.
“I thought we were excellent in the first-half and deserved to be in front,” he said. “We limited them and they had to change their formation and personnel.
“They upped it in the second-half and they deserve to get promoted and I imagine they will be crowned champions but we can take a lot of belief and a lot of positivity from our first-half performance.
“It’s a difficult result to take because we did play so well but we have to kick on and we’ve got two big games this weekend.”
Revell’s manager echoed those feelings, and now Edinburgh has targeted at least two more wins before the season’s out.
“Mathematically we’re not safe,” stressed the Cobblers boss. “Not many teams have gone down with 51 points in the last 10 or so seasons so we’ve just got to keep focusing on every game.
“We want to make sure we continue to put in good performances and grow as a group.
“There are a lot of players whose contracts are up at the end of the season so there is a lot to play for.
“We’ve just got to keep going. There are less points to accumulate and I think as a group we want another couple of wins before the end of the season and that’s our aim.”
On Revell’s return, Edinburgh continued: “I’m pleased for Revs. He’s had to be patient because he’s been out for a while but he looks fit and he looks strong so that’ll be good fur us as a group and as a team going into the last few games.”