THE BIG KICK-OFF: Buchanan believes current Cobblers squad is as good as class of 2016

AND THEN THERE WERE THREE - Town's league two title-winning survivors Sam Hoskins, John-Joe O'Toole and David Buchanan celebrate back in 2016
AND THEN THERE WERE THREE - Town's league two title-winning survivors Sam Hoskins, John-Joe O'Toole and David Buchanan celebrate back in 2016

David Buchanan believes the current Cobblers squad is as good as the one that claimed the Sky Bet League Two title back in 2016.

Now the difficult bit is to go out on the pitch and prove it.

Marc Richards lifts the league two trophy in 2016. David Buchanan believes the current Cobblers squad is as good as Chris Wilder's was

Marc Richards lifts the league two trophy in 2016. David Buchanan believes the current Cobblers squad is as good as Chris Wilder's was

Town make their return to the Football League’s basement division for the first time since their win at Portsmouth back in May, 2016 when they entertain Lincoln City at the PTS Academy Stadium on Saturday.

Buchanan is excited as he embarks on his fourth season as a Cobblers player, and he believes there is plenty to be optimistic about, despite the club’s relegation from league one.

“I am a positive person, and I think the squad we have got is as good as the one we had when we won the league,” said Buchanan, who is one of only three survivors from the title-winning squad of two years ago, along with John-Joe O’Toole and Sam Hoskins.

“We have a great mixture, and we have some young lads who have come through and are eager and pushing us every day.

The main thing we had when we won it before, everybody was on the same page, and at this moment in time that is the impression I get from this squad too

Cobblers defender David Buchanan

“Then you have the likes of myself, John-Joe, Sam Foley and people like that who are the experienced players in the group.

“In between that we have a lot of talent and a lot of people who have got good individuality and can win games on their own.

“I do think there is maybe a bit more expectation on us this time than the season we did win the league.

“It is a long campaign, and we have to get off to the right start, but I will be disappointed if we are not up there come the end of it.”

It has taken Buchanan and his team-mates time to get over relegation from league one, but he admits the silver lining is that it gives them a chance to enjoy another promotion - and perhaps another open top bus parade around the streets of Northampton.

“It was heartache going down last season, but there are players in our dressing room who have been promoted, and been relegated as well, with us and other clubs too,” said the former Preston North End man.

“And as much as it hurts you when you get relegated, there is no better feeling than getting promoted.

“The punters here will be right behind us as long as we are giving 100 per cent every week, and they be here in their numbers, home and away.

“It was unbelievable in 2016, and it would be nice to be on that open top bus in the middle of the town centre again!

“But it is a long season, it’s a tough league, and it is important everybody in the squad plays their part and sticks together.

“That was the main thing we had when we won it before, everybody was on the same page, and at this moment in time that is the impression I get from this squad too.

“Everybody has done well in pre-season, and if we’re not in the squad on Saturday we are going to be disappointed, but the main thing is we want the team to win.”

Town’s campaign begins with a diffcult test against a Lincoln side who made the play-offs last season, and also won the Checkatrade Trophy, beating league one Shrewsbury at Wembley.

They will be backed by 1,500 travelling fans, and it is a game Buchanan is relishing.

“Lincoln is going to be a tough opponent, make no mistake about that,” said the 32-year-old.

“I know a few of their players and since the management duo have gone in there they have been on an upward curve.

“They are used to winning football matches, they won promotion from the National League and got to the play-offs last season, and won against Shrewsbury at Wembley in a final as well.

“They will be a confident squad, they have recruited well too, but we are at home and we are going to stamp our authority on them.

“But this is a great fixture for both teams, and I think if we can get a positive start and pick up three points on Saturday, then it’s three points against a team that will definitely be up there and in and around it come the end of the season.

“When you are at home you want to get off to a good start, although we know it won’t be easy.

“Lincoln will be coming here full of expectation as well, and we have to make sure that everything we have worked on over the course of the past five or six weeks of pre-season we put into action.

“We have to go out there and be positive and apply our game on to them.”

And he added: “We can’t wait for it all to start. We have had a good pre-season, it has been tough as always, and we just can’t wait to get going, and to start the season here at Sixfields is a bonus.

“The main thing with pre-season is to try and get through it fit and healthy and injury-free, and I think for the majority of it we have kept a fit squad. “Everybody is raring to go, and everybody is available for selection.”