McWilliams: No excuse for Cobblers not to be fully motivated against Derby county

‘If there's this feeling around that maybe, not that we're not trying, but the season is drifting, it's up to us to show we aren't in that mindset and we've never been in that mindset.’
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Shaun McWilliams insists neither he nor his team-mates will lack motivation for the final seven games of the season, starting against Derby County on Saturday.

​Both Jon Brady and vice-captain Aaron McGowan admitted earlier this week that, with little on the line, Town have let their high standards slip in recent weeks.

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They are almost certainly safe from relegation and any faint hopes of an unlikely play-off charge have also disappeared, but there’s still plenty of points to play for between now and the end of the season.

Shaun McWilliamsShaun McWilliams
Shaun McWilliams

"I wouldn't say it's particularly difficult to keep our levels high, it shouldn't be anyway,” said McWilliams. “We still have to go out on the pitch seven more times this season and we never want to go out there and lose.

"It shouldn't be hard to keep yourself motivated. It may not look that way because of the timing and where we are and the fact we haven't won in five games. But I know that's not the case.

"We have gone over things as staff and as players and we've looked at how we want the final few games to play out and our full focus is on the next game. We've put the last few weeks behind us and we're just focused on getting that next win.”

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Cobblers are still enjoying a good season and it could turn into an excellent one with a strong final month.

"I feel like we definitely have something to prove,” admitted McWilliams. "If there's this feeling around that maybe, not that we're not trying, but the season is drifting, it's up to us to show we aren't in that mindset and we've never been in that mindset.

"We do need to finish strongly. Us as boys, the targets we set ourselves this season, we don't want to just amble over the line. We have our targets that we want to hit.

"We want to finish in a position where we deserve to be and we all have that urge over these last seven games to really finish well and finish as high as we can.”

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Although recently injured, McWilliams himself is having another good season.

"I feel good to be fair,” said the 25-year-old, who has played 32 times this season. “For any footballer coming back from injury, it does take a few games to get up to speed.

"But I feel I've played enough minutes now and I'm raring to go and ready for the weekend.”

Statistically, Cobblers have the kindest run-in of any League One team with five of their remaining seven opponents currently occupying a place below them in the table.

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However, there is nothing kind about Saturday’s visit of the promotion-chasing Rams, who can take another big step towards the Championship with victory at Sixfields.

"I think against the better teams in the league we've let too many goals in and it's been a bit too easy,” continued McWilliams. "With how Derby away went, I feel like we have something to prove and we're also keen not to just amble over the line. We need to show that we still have that urge.

"It's obviously a big game but we've got to give them one back because they beat us quite heavily at their place and we don't want that to happen again.”