Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink says he sees Billy Waters ‘eventually as a striker’ but the Cobblers boss will continue using him in a wide role for the foreseeable future.
Waters is naturally a central player but with Sam Hoskins currently sidelined through injury, and with a shortage of genuine wingers in the squad, he’s largely been used on the right side of a front three under Hasselbaink, as he was at Oxford United last Saturday.
He produced a fine performance too, just as he did in a similar position at Rochdale last month, and following a lively cameo off the bench in Tuesday’s FA Cup tie, the summer signing now looks set to play the same role for Saturday’s visit of Scunthorpe.
“Billy brings urgency with his pace and we needed that at the time,” said Hasselbaink.
“He hasn’t played that many games in the past so Saturday he played and he played ever so well.
“It was a big decision for me to leave him out (on Tuesday) but we now have a string of three games (in a week) and we have Sam out at the moment.
I see Billy eventually as a striker but he’s doing a good job on the right and that’s where we’re using him at this moment of time.
“We don’t know yet when he’s coming back and Billy is the one who is similar to Sam and we like to play with a player like that so we need to nurse him through games.
“I see Billy eventually as a striker but he’s doing a good job on the right and that’s where we’re using him at this moment of time.”
Despite his excellent performance and the team’s impressive victory, there was still a tinge of frustration for Waters when the full-time whistle blew in Saturday’s win over Oxford.. Now four months into his career at Sixfields, he’s still searching for his first goal.
He was so close to ending that drought at the Kassam Stadium - only a last-ditch defender’s intervention preventing a certain tap-in early in the second half.
The 23-year-old, who scored 16 times for Cheltenham in league two last season, said: “I can confirm I didn’t miss an open goal! It was a really good ball across from Longy and, like the gaffer said, I should probably have got across my man.
“I just thought I’d hang out at the back post and hopefully get a tap-in but their lad did really well to get a nick on it. I was gutted it didn’t fall to me
“I don’t care when it (a goal) comes, it’d just be nice to get one now.
“I’m disappointed not to have scored yet because I feel that’s a very strong part of my game and has been over the past two seasons.
“I know there’s goals to come but the first thing on my mind is just to get the three points and we did that on Saturday so ultimately I’m happy.
“Your own individual goals can come after that.”