FEATURE: Cobblers defender Odoffin wants to go on the attack
Defender Hakeem Odoffin believes he has plenty more to offer the Cobblers as an attacking force.
The former Wolverhampton Wanderers man is becoming an increasingly important figure in the Town rearguard, and last Saturday he showed he also has another string to his bow by creating the chance for Kevin van Veen to make it 2-2 in the FA Cup first round clash at Lincoln City.
The 20-year-old attacked down the right and played a neat one-two with Sam Hoskins before laying the ball back for the Dutch striker, who produced a classy finish.
Frustratingly, Town went on to lose the game, but Odoffin was pleased to contribute in the attacking third, and says it is a part of his game that he is determined to improve on.
Asked about his first assist for the club, Odoffin said: “I even had a shot as well, I don’t know what I was doing!
“But getting forward is something I want to bring into my game, and something that I know I have.
“I can get forward as well as defend, and it was good to get an assist but I would have rather it led to a win or a draw.
“But it is a positive, and hopefully I can keep on going and get another one.”
If Odoffin does add attacking flair to his armoury, then the Cobblers could have one hell of a player on their hands.
The Barnet-born defender has grown in stature over the first few months of the season and, like many other players, seems to be blossoming under the guidance of boss Keith Curle.
He was brought to the club by Dean Austin, but it is under Curle that he has shone, and he said: “I have felt settled from day one, but it’s just that the results weren’t there.
“It has been really good to get a couple of man-of-the-match awards as it means a lot, but it is all about the result, and when those man-of-the-match awards come with the win as well, that is when I am really happy.
“It is always good to have good performances, but it is about the team getting the wins.”
Odoffin left Molineux in the summer in search of regular first team football, and he has found it at the PTS Academy Stadium.
He never made a first team appearance for Wolves, but did spend half of last season playing for Eastleigh in the Vanarama National League, and he is delighted to be in the first team picture at the Cobblers.
“It is massive for me, and I think for any player, playing week in, week out is the most important thing,” said Odoffin.
“When the results are there as well then it is really enjoyable, and I am enjoying it right now.
“Before I came to Northampton I had played in men’s football before, so I haven’t had to adjust to that.
“It is just about adjusting to different philosophies under different managers, and I feel I have done that well.”
Something else Odoffin has done well is play his part in an improved Cobblers defence.
The concession of three goals at Lincoln last weekend was unlike the team over the past few weeks, but Odoffin feels that was a one-off as the defensive unit of himself, Aaron Pierre, Jordan Turnbull, David Buchanan and David Cornell have been very steady in recent games
“I think you can see we are really comfortable together, and that is showing on the pitch,” said the former Wolves man.
“We aren’t happy to have conceded the goals we did on Saturday, but we know that with the results that have come before that, we have done really well.
“We have been keeping clean sheets, and that is what we are focused on.
“We want to keep as many clean sheets as possible, because we know we have the players in the team that can have that moment of magic, and can get us results.
“We are really comfortable at the moment, and I think we are doing well.”
He may not have come through the club’s academy, but Odoffin definitely enhances the Cobblers growing reputation for being a team full of young talent.
In recent weeks, youth team products such as Jay Williams, Camron McWilliams, Sean Whaler and Morgan Roberts have all been part of the first team picture.
As a senior professional, Odoffin has made it his responsibility to help make those players feel at home in the first team environment - even though he’s only a couple of years their senior at 20.
And he feels that players can be leaders on the pitch, no matter how young they are, and that is the message he will try and get across to Town;s new young breed.
“I take pride in being a leader, and I feel you can be a leader no matter your age,” said Odoffin.
“It is about all of us being leaders out on the pitch.
“It is weird to think some of the players coming in are only a year or to younger than me, but when they come on to the pitch, they need to be a leader as much as I do, and as much as Buchs does.
“We all have to be leaders, and it is something I thrive on and look forward to doing.”