One of the great things about the recent turn around in the Cobblers’ form is the emergence of a clutch of youngsters that have come into the side and really staked a claim to give not only Aidy Boothroyd but those injured or suspended squad members something to think about. There’s been a good number of players developed at Sixfields over the last few years with the likes of Mark Bunn, Bradley Johnson and Steve Morrison all going on to play in the top flight and Chris Dunn and Michael Jacobs moving up the league ladder with a view to doing just the same.
So who will be next? Which of the class of 2012, who are being raced towards graduation faster than they would ever have imagined, will be the next to make the step up? It’s hard to say with many still so raw but here’s a look at the current crop of exciting talent coming through…
Snedker was the first to break in with last season’s goalkeeping dilemmas thrusting him into the spotlight and onto the bench for a majority of the run-in. Snedker finally got his debut in the Capital One Cup this season, helping us to victory against Championship side Cardiff City before also keeping goal in the 3-1 defeat to Wolves in the following round. With a fine recent record of the club developing goalkeepers, Snedker could be the next in line with Shane Higgs recently departing and Lee Nicholls currently the only keeper ahead of him.
Hornby has been the one to really come to the fore this season. The midfielder had a tough task coming in to replace Ben Harding and Luke Guttridge but he’s shown class and ability well beyond his years, slotting into the middle of the park like the position is his own and even making us question how much of a struggle it will be for Guttridge to get his place back on his return! Hornby spent time on loan at Kettering last season and made his Cobblers debut in the 2-1 JPT win over Colchester United just over a month ago. It says a lot about him that it feels like he’s been in the team for a lot longer! All signs so far are that Hornby is the one to watch in terms of quick development and the immediate future.
Wilson is another who has already been in the squad before this season, making his debut in a 1-1 draw with Gillingham at the end of last season and scoring the Cobblers’ goal that day to mark a dream start to his Town career. He’s been played in midfield for the most part so far this term and has occasionally looked a little lost. You can’t lay too much blame on him for that, though, with plenty of time for him to learn more of his craft. Wilson technically came through the ranks at Rushden and Diamonds but we won’t go too far into that! He signed a new one year contract at the end of last season.
Another to not have come through the Cobblers academy itself, Moult is however still classed as a youngster and one who is looking to kick start his career. He played just once for Stoke in a three year period where he was loaned out to four different teams before finding his home at Sixfields this summer. I was impressed with him on early showings before he was put right into the mix of things in October when Alex Nicholls went off his with shocking injury against Port Vale and made an immediate impact by scoring the second goal that day and hitting the net again the following against Bradford in the FA Cup. Moult showed another side of himself by getting himself sent off against York but hopefully he comes back stronger and ready to once again repay the faith of Aidy Boothroyd.
Dias has so far only been an unused substitute for the Cobblers but is another who has shown real potential, playing ninety minutes in the recent FA Youth Cup victory over York City. Dias was born in Milton Keynes and joined the Cobblers at Under 14s level so it says a lot about his progress that he’s still being kept on now. It’s going to be hard for Dias to break into a midfield that’s slowly being pieced back together by Aidy Boothroyd but he’s one to keep an eye on elsewhere.
Moyo popped up on the bench against Port Vale without any of us knowing who he was beyond the fact that he’d been scoring a fair few goals for the youth team. Moyo has been on the bench for the last couple of weeks and even replaced Bayo Akinfenwa during the 3-1 win over Wycombe Wanderers at the weekend!
Toney has come from nowhere in the last week to become the Cobblers’ youngest ever player at the age of sixteen years and two hundred and seventy three days during the FA Cup First Round Replay at Bradford, setting up Town’s third goal during extra time. His astonishing week continued the very next night as he score four times in a 5-0 Youth Cup win over York City and was back on the bench on Saturday against Wycombe! If his first week in the spotlight is anything to go by, this lad could be something special!
The Best of the rest…
Craig Hinton’s youth team were on a fine run up until Saturday’s defeat against Peterborough and have progressed through to the FA Youth Cup Third Round where they will meet Canvey Island. Others that impressed on that night were left winger Callum Powell along with Jordan Chambers and Danny Harmon (son of ex Cobbler Darren Harmon!).
There’s more attention than there’s been for a long time on the Cobblers young players with a good crowd turning out for the Youth Cup and plenty of scouts rumoured to have been inside Sixfields at the same game. With another home draw in that competition it could be a great time for the kids of today. Aidy Boothroyd has a good record of working with young players from his past clubs and doesn’t seem to hesitate in calling them up when needed.
With a small squad in place this season it’s likely to be an interesting one to see who, of the above, rise to the challenge and stake their claim like Lewis Hornby has so brilliantly done so far. If they continue how they are going, there may be another Bunny or Crackers just around the corner!