His road to full fitness was a lot longer and far more frustrating than first anticipated but back in the team and among the goals again, Daniel Powell is hoping he’s over the worst of his injury problems and can help fire the Cobblers to safety this season.
Powell just looked to be finding his mojo at Sixfields when, not long after scoring his first goal for the club in superb style at Gillingham, his season was interrupted by an untimely hamstring injury picked up 19 minutes into November’s clash at Oxford United.
Initially expected to be out for no more than two weeks, hamstring injuries are notoriously troublesome and Powell’s comeback was put off several times with his manager keen to ensure he was 100 per cent fit before returning to the fold.
It wasn’t until December 30 and Town’s trip to Portsmouth when Powell next played again but even then, and even after starting against Wigan on New Year’s Day, his fitness remained a problem until Saturday’s game at AFC Wimbledon.
Back in the team, Powell was also back in the goals as he helped the Cobblers return to winning ways with a 3-1 victory over their relegation rivals, scoring the third and final goal of the afternoon and playing 89 much-needed minutes.
“I hope I can get a run in the team now,” said the 26-year-old afterwards. “Injuries and fitness have been frustrating but I felt good on Saturday and I feel fit but it was just my first game.
“It was a tendon, not necessarily the muscle and in my rehab I re-injured it and it just wasn’t right so that was very frustrating but it’s one of those things and hopefully now it’s behind me.”
His campaign started slowly but the ability has always been there and that was illustrated at Kingsmeadow on Saturday when Powell bagged his second goal of the season with a beautifully-placed low shot that capped off a fine away victory.
It was the least he deserved for a tremendous second-half display. He continually picked up good positions and made smart runs, and when he was eventually found through John-Joe O’Toole’s third assist of the afternoon, he made full use of it.
“John-Joe is a big part of what we do,” admitted Powell. “He’s good in training, he’s a good professional and he’s a really nice lad so he’s vital for us to stay in this league.
I think we looked exciting and we were threatening every time we went forward. I’ve worked a lot on my finishing in training so when it came to me I felt quite confident and it was a good finish.
“I think we looked exciting and we were threatening every time we went forward. I’ve worked a lot on my finishing in training so when it came to me I felt quite confident and it was a good finish.
“The lads were saying it was a bit like Henry but I’ll take Beckham as well! I was always going in that corner. I picked up that position a couple of times and could have been slipped in but I didn’t get it, so when it came to me there was only one thing in my head – to go to the keeper’s left.
“I don’t care how they come, I’ll take any goal. It was nice to get another goal and now hopefully I can get a few more over the rest of the season.
“It was an important win. We’ve worked hard all week and I think we got what we deserved because we looked sharper, we were fitter and we wanted it more.
“A few of the teams around us lost, obviously Wimbledon and MK Dons as well so it was a really big three points and hopefully now we can push on from this and get us up the league.”
After being so short on wide players prior to January, Hasselbaink now has options galore. Powell and Sam Hoskins played and impressed at Wimbledon on Saturday but there’s also new signings Hildeberto Peeriera and Gboly Ariyibi to consider.
Powell welcomes the competition though, adding: “I can play on the left, the right, up front or wherever, as long as I’m playing!
“I think it brings out the best in players. We’ve got good players and we didn’t have many wingers before but now we do and that competition for places will only improve us.”
Northampton take on one of the division’s most in-form teams on Tuesday evening when Gillingham are the visitors to Sixfields.
“Gillingham are doing really well of late but we’re confident,” continued Powell. “We’re on a good run ourselves and our recent performances have been quite good so hopefully we can take that into Tuesday.
“We’re in confident mood and we have a few winnable games coming up so hopefully we can pick up some points!”