Holmes: Fierce training ground competition will drive the Cobblers on

Cobblers playmaker Ricky Holmes
Cobblers playmaker Ricky Holmes

Ricky Holmes says the intense competition on the training pitch will ensure the Cobblers maintain their superb form in Sky Bet League Two - and that the recent additions to the squad are only going to spice things up even more.

The winger, who was last week named the Sky Bet League Two player of the month for January, was already impressed with the strength of the Town squad, but feels the work done by manager Chris Wilder in the transfer window has upped the quality levels even higher.

James Collins, Lee Martin, Luke Prosser and Danny Rose all came through the doors at Sixfields, and Town now have a squad of 21 players all fighting for first team starts.

Lawson D’Ath has been one of the team’s standout performers in recent months, but after recovering from injury he couldn’t even make the match day 18 for Saturday’s 2-0 win over York City, and had to sit in the stands, as did Alfie Potter and Josh Lelan.

“I was speaking to Joel Byrom, and we were saying how strong the squad is now,” admitted Holmes.

“The gaffer has got a real headache on a Saturday to even decide who to leave out of the squad.

“Everyone is fit and firing, training is a really good standard, and if you are left out you will be disappointed because everybody has really upped their game and we are all pushing each other in the right direction.”

Asked if the extra competition adds extra bite to training sessions Holmes said: “Yes, it does.

“Training is how you get picked. We train every day, that is why we are full-time, and when you get to a Saturday you are hoping you have done enough on the training pitch in the week to get into the team.

“There is great competition at the moment.”

The Cobblers are next in action on Saturday when they travel to another in-form team in Leyton Orient, who have won three of their past four games since Kevin Nolan took over as player-manager at Brisbane Road, including a 1-0 win at fast-fading Portsmouth last weekend.

Town are in a great position as they are five points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand on second-placed Plymouth Argyle, and nine points clear of third-placed Oxford United, who dropped two points when they drew 2-2 at home with Mansfield on Tuesday night, with the Stags netting an 89th-minute equaliser.

With 18 games of the season remaining, the Cobblers now have to hold their nerve, and Holmes believes the experience in the Sixfields dressing room will stand them in good stead to do just that.

“Experience is a massive thing,” said Holmes.

“I have been in some young dressing rooms and it didn’t really work out at times when the going got tough.

“But everyone in our squad is experienced, everyone’s around the same age at 27, 28, and we are all pulling the right results and hopefully we can keep winning.”