Former Cobblers defender Lee Collins has admitted he has been looking forward to returning to Sixfields from the day he signed for Sky Bet League Two rivals Mansfield Town.
The 27-year-old was surprisingly released by Chris Wilder at the end of last season, with the Town boss admitting the decision was one of the toughest he had made as a manager.
Collins had spent two-and-a-half years at Northampton, making 86 appearances in the claret and white and was a popular figure with the Cobblers supporters.
Following Collins’s release from Northampton, he was quickly snapped up by Stags boss Adam Murray and has been a regular for them this season.
Mansfield come to Sixfields on Saturday and Collins is set to line up in central defence, directly up against his old pal Marc Richards, who he played alongside for Town as well as Port Vale, and admits he is looking forward to returning to a club he has ‘a lot of love for’.
“I have had this date on my calendar since the start of the season and I still have a lot of love for the club,” said Collins.
“Northampton are in a bit of a pickle financially, which I hope they get out of, but obviously I am a Mansfield player now and I am going there with three points on my mind.”
Collins is well aware of the Cobblers’ current financial troubles, and said he is keen for them to come out the other side.
“It’s not pretty, because the staff, the players, everybody there, the fans, they all deserve better,” he said.
“I don’t know what’s gone on, so I can’t really express an opinion, but something’s not right and I just hope it gets fixed for them.”
Collins is not the only former Cobbler returning to Sixfields on Saturday, with left-back Blair Adams also set to play, and Matty Blair likely to be on the bench.
Indeed, it will be a bit of an old pals’ act all round, as Cobblers boss Wilder has plenty of connections with the Mansfield players too.
“There are a number of players at Mansfield that I have managed,” said Wilder, who also managed Stags boss Adam Murray at Oxford United.
“I managed Adam Chapman, who was outstanding for me at Oxford, and so was Matt Green who helped us get out of the Conference.”