Skipper Marc Richards admits it is an ‘unsettling’ time for the Cobblers players who will be out of contract this summer, but says it is right that talks on their futures are delayed until the club’s Sky Bet League One safety is secured.
The 34-year-old is one of a clutch of players whose deals run out at the end of the season, with the others including Adam Smith, Zander Diamond, John-Joe O’Toole and Neal Eardley.
Richards is coming to the end of the three-year deal he signed in the summer of 2014 after leaving Chesterfield, and admits he is keen to prolong his stay at a club where he has now made 178 appearances over two spells, scoring 60 goals in the process.
But he also understands the club’s position as they strive to stay in league one, and the fact that manager Justin Edinburgh faces some tough decisions as he looks to rebuild the squad for next season, whatever league they are in.
“I think those sort of talks will come when the club is safe, or the club knows its situation for next season,” said Richards, when asked if he had been involved in any conversations with the club about a new contract.
“It wouldn’t be wrong to have those talks, but it’s a little bit quick to have talks now with players who are out of contract, and not knowing which league we are going to be in.
I think those sort of talks will come when the club is safe, or the club knows its situation for next seasonCobblers skipper Marc Richards
“So first and foremost, get the safety of the club sorted, and then I think the manager can step in and start speaking about contracts.”
Playing for new deals is all a part of a professional footballer’s life of course, as contracts come to an end on a regular basis, but Richards admits it is still something that will always cause concern, and something that plays on a player’s mind.
But he insists it doesn’t affect players’ performances, and if anything, it may well improve it.
“It is a tough time, it is unsettling, and certainly it is in the back of your mind,” said the Wolverhampton-born front man.
“You want to be doing as well as you can each and every week, in every training session, every game, every minute you are out on the pitch you are striving to impress.
“With a new manager coming in, he has his own ideas and opinions on players, some that will be out of contract might leave, some will stay, and no doubt it is the whole scenario with football that happens every year.
“You have to make sure your own house is in good order, before you can start helping each other out on the pitch as well, and on the training ground, and on match days.
“But it is something that plays on your mind, without a doubt.”
A man who has turned out for 10 different clubs in his career, Richards feels right at home at the Cobblers, and admits he would love to stay at the club.
And although he already has one eye on the future and getting into coaching, he also made it clear he still sees himself as a player, and that there is plenty of life in his legs yet.
“I am settled and living in the area now, and this is a very good club that is well run,” said Richards, who also spent two years at Sixfields between 2003 and 2005.
“From the top down now, it is a club that I think players will look at and feel like they want to be a part of something here.
“If we can stay in this league and use that as a stepping stone, then there is no reason why we can’t progress and look for something bigger and better next season.
“The squad we have at the moment is good, it can be better, but I am sure the gaffer has targets and players he wants to bring in to help improve the squad.”
And on what the future holds?
“I have a couple of coaching badges, and have done level two and youth modules, and I have been accepted on to the UEFA B in the summer, so that’s something I am looking forward to doing,” said the Town captain, who has scored 11 goals in 39 appearances this season.
“I am looking forward to going into that (coaching) come the latter part of my career, I am getting quite close to it I think, but at the moment I am fully concentrated on playing.
“I am concentrating on getting as many games, as many minutes and as many goals as I can between now and the end of my career.
“At the moment I feel fit, I feel fresh, and going into games I have no issues and no injury worries.”