Spanish trip reveals big clues as pre-season steps up

It’s been a summer of unexpected hope, memorable moments and faith restoring football over in Russia so as the Cobblers prepare to hit the ground running ahead of the new season we can only hope that the good feeling continues into the league campaign. With just under three weeks to go until the big kick off (three weeks!) it’s time to turn our full attention once again to those players who’ll be looking to emulate the excellent progress made by the national team and carry the hopes of the next nine months.

Dean Austin has led the squad to Spain for a pre-season camp this week and his selection of those making the trip is sure to increase the speculation around the final destination of those on the fringes of their Sixfields careers.

The players left behind – Luke Coddington, Joe Iaciofano, Yaser Kasim and Billy Waters – will not only miss out on team bonding and a friendly taking place on Thursday but will also likely be doubting their places in Austin’s plans full stop. You could make a case for Coddington and Iaciofano staying to possibly arrange loan moves but this surely means the end for Kasim who has now failed to persuade three Town managers in the space of a year that he should be given a chance.

Waters is the case that causes the most interest. The former Cheltenham man, sent out on loan to Cambridge United last season, has been involved in all friendlies so far and could be forgiven for being disappointed to be left back in England, particularly after netting a couple in the 4-0 win over St. Albans City. Austin makes the case that he only wanted two players for each position on the trip but the fact that the travelling squad is littered with youth talent leaves you thinking that it won’t be long before Waters makes a permanent departure. In fact, there’s nothing to say that a move hasn’t already been lined up for him in the coming days.

Another not travelling is new striker Junior Morias, signed from The Posh last week. Morias is without a Visa and will stay behind to build up fitness here. Morias is the most eye opening piece of business by the club so far this summer and his promise that he “never gives a defender a minute’s piece” fits right into the ethos being created by the Cobblers boss. Morias was down the pecking order at London Road but it’s still looking like an excellent capture for League Two level.

With the central striking berths now all but sorted barring any departures, business should now turn to bringing in a replacement for Richard O’Donnell in goal and some extra creativity in central and wide midfield. We’ve appeared short in those areas in the pre-season games so far and it’s asking a lot for the likes of Morgan Roberts to come straight into consideration for what’s sure to be a tasty opening month back in League Two with all of the pressure and expectation that will contain.

But two or three more in the door before Lincoln’s visit would mean that Austin has completed his summer homework and we can all settle in for League Two hunting season. If we can kick off as we ended the last then we could yet be in for more stirring footballing moments to continue the national feeling through the dark autumn months.

For Sale: Reasonable prices, high quality workers

From: ntfctransfers@ntfc.co.uk

To: Allmanagers@leaguetwo.com; Allmanagers@leagueone.com; Allmanagers@indianpremierleague.com; jfh@jobcentre.com; gary.johnson@ctfc.com

 

Dear all,

Northampton Town are pleased to offer the following players for sale this summer after these wonderful talents of footballers worked wonders for the club last season. As we are now back in League Two, these top notch players are seen as too good to compete in the division so we have made the difficult decision to offer their services elsewhere at reasonable prices.

K. Van Veen – Striker – 27

This forward gives absolutely everything to the cause, haring around the pitch like anyone’s business and will not give up as long as there’s time on the clock. A former Helmond Sport protégé, Van Veen was inspirational in his efforts to keep The Cobblers in League One last season, scoring twenty goals (all disallowed so you’ll not hear about them anywhere else!) and creating moments of pure magic whenever he took to the field.

A bargain for anyone who needs an attacker with an eye for goal and someone with the energy to match a Duracell Bunny.

Y. Kasim – Midfield – 27

This high octane midfielder will give a balance to your midfield like you actually won’t believe. Don’t let his six appearances for the Cobblers last season fool you…those appearances included moments such as Kasim running the length of the pitch to make a challenge, a bicycle kick to create a goal, a through ball that would have made Jonjo Shelvey proud and a corner that had to be seen to be believed.

Kasim has bags of experience and will slot into any team with the greatest of ease. Please move quickly, other teams are looming.

D. Bowditch – Midfield/Striker – 32

What more can be said about Dean Bowditch’s career that hasn’t already been said? After bursting onto the scene at Ipswich Town, Bowditch has spent time on loan at teams from all corners of the land and even came through a spell where he was forced to spend six years playing for Milton Keynes Dons. THAT shows some character, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Bowditch can play in a number of positions across the pitch and even scored two goals while on loan at League Two Stevenage last season. Available at just £500,000 Bowditch is a snip in today’s inflated market and scouts from Manchester City have already been spotted in the bushes overlooking the Cobblers’ Moulton College training ground

J. Bunney – Somewhere on the left hand side – 24

TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE  (Available again summer 2019)

For all enquiries, please get in touch now. Prices quoted above are a guideline only and can be negotiated.

Just too good to be true?

OK, OK it’s the obvious headline but sometimes you’ve just got to roll with it, especially in the summer when it’s pretty quiet on the news front.

It’s a new signing! Always good to see work being done early and the Cobblers have snapped up Andy Williams after his release from Doncaster Rovers. Playing only thirteen times last season thanks to an ankle injury that cost him more than half of the campaign, it’s clear that it’s been a struggle of a year for the man who counts Hereford United, Bristol Rovers, Yeovil Town and Swindon Town among his other clubs through a decent career in the lower leagues.

He’s undoubtedly bringing bags of goal scoring experience from the top end of League Two with him and early reviews are that he’s just the type of character that Dean Austin will be trying to bring in over the coming months.

Quite telling are his reasons for joining Town, with the striker saying

“I hope I will bring goals to the team. I like to think I’ve got good movement, I know where the back of the net is and I am a big believer in not leaving anything out on the pitch.”

Welcome Andy!

 

Andy Williams – the stats

Age: 31

Previous Clubs: Hereford United, Bristol Rovers, Yeovil Town, Swindon Town, Doncaster Rovers

Career Appearances: 517

Career Goals: 123

Christmas Bonus…

James CollinsSix points, a grip held on second place and a genuine powerhouse of a signing at League Two level – it’s not been a bad Christmas and New Year period for the Cobblers as the home defeat by Portsmouth that derailed the fine run of form was quickly forgotten about with two very different victories.

It’s a stark contrast to twelve months ago when Town headed into the 2015 on the back of five straight defeats. We were two points from the drop zone having collected just 24 points from 23 games. Fast forward twelve months and 2016 begins with us five points clear of fourth place with a game in hand and with more than double the amount of points on the board.

The victories that keep us in touch with leaders Plymouth Argyle and the chasing pack were a good indicator of where we’re at. Fellow promotion hopefuls Accrington were the better side at Sixfields a couple of days after Christmas but an out of sorts performance still ended with us nicking the win thanks to the reliability of the blossoming pairing of Ricky Holmes and Marc Richards, Rico heading in the only goal of a tight games.

Barnet were more straight forward opposition for once and when you brush past the Bees, a perennial bogey team of ours, you start getting the feeling that we’re going to be in with a huge chance of keeping up the pace with a group of sides that are showing no signs of blinking in this huge promotion race.

The fact that the ranks were boosted on Tuesday by a beast of a signing – Shrewsbury striker James Collins on loan until the end of the season – surely makes everyone else sit up and take notice. It’s s statement of intent that means that the attacking options are even more potent than ever. The exit of Dominic Calvert-Lewin would have been disappointing after the youngster made a good impression in his short time here but given that the focus is now on promotion the moves in and out make a lot of sense. Calvert-Lewin certainly has potential but it’s understandable that if someone like Collins becomes available you have to go for him.

Collins’ first involvement will be a top of the table clash at leaders Plymouth on Tuesday night but first comes a rare appearance in the FA Cup Third Round on Saturday. It’s been one of the most dramatic cup runs in recent times with the victory at Coventry drawing all the emotion possible from a travelling contingent that were genuinely believing that it could be the final ever away game for the club and then a remarkable turnaround against Northwich Victoria threw us into the hat.

It’s not the glamour tie it could have been at this stage but the appetite and desire of a squad chomping at every bit of opportunity that comes their way means that there’s a big opportunity for an upset and progression to a stage not reached since 2004.

It’s still ‘pinch me’ territory from where we were before that game at Coventry and whatever happens on Saturday and then on Tuesday, you have to be thankful for this completely opposite style of ‘worry’ we’re facing in the next few days.

As we settle in for this double header, let’s first check out the latest man to tie his flag to the mast of the good ship Cobbler…

Early deals show signs of flair and competition…

nickyadamsI’m always a fan of the early check in when it comes to summer signings and am of the opinion that an early gathering of most of the squad that’s going to take you hurtling into the following season should be in place before pre-season to allow maximum gelling time. So this past week’s double whammy of Alfie Potter and Nicky Adams was more than welcome and the signs are that more talks are ongoing.

Both signings show signs of added flair and would have been very good additions even before you consider the players they realistically have to battle past to feature in the first team – Lawson D’Ath and Rickie Holmes. It’s been clear in the petering out period between March and May this year that more strength in depth was needed as the Cobblers battled hard but couldn’t quite keep up with the top seven. So having this much talent in those positions is a huge start to the summer with both players not only able to play out wide but also across most attacking positions. The likes of Rico and Ivan Toney will be licking their lips at the service that’s likely to come to them.

Potter has been linked with Town ever since Chris Wilder made the move to Sixfields and at 26 has that fine balance between experienced in league football but with plenty of prime years left in him. The relationship with Wilder shouldn’t be underestimated and hopefully the Cobblers boss can get the best of the winger once again.

Adams is one of those players that seems to have been around for years but is only 28 himself. Past clubs’ fans have commented on how he runs himself into the ground for the team and he fits the Wilder mould to a tee when you look at his signings of the aforementioned D’Ath and Holmes, both of whom provide exactly the same service.

It’s a great start to the summer with the deals done before the playoff final was done and dusted to officially close the 2014/15 League Two season. To say that we’re building bricks on top of solid foundation rather than filling holes is great to see and though there’s still work to be done in key positions there’s reasons to be cheerful as we usher in the summer.

Cobblers closed for business as full backs complete the squad

horwoodIt’s July 2nd are the Cobblers have apparently already finished their transfer business after completing the signings of Evan Horwood (two year deal) and Danny Alfei (season long loan) this morning. With over a month to go until the start of the season Chris Wilder is now happy enough with his squad that, barring another striker becoming available, he’s ready to roll. It seems unprecedented that we have all of our targets and signings in place before the rush of the last minute in August but it can only help with the togetherness of the squad to have a few weeks of bonding knowing that the group won’t be changing all that much before the big kick off.

We all know about Horwood, of course, after his performances in the eight games he played in at the end of last season enough to persuade Wilder to give him a longer deal this summer. His attacking play as well as his ability to defend was key in our survival and it’s also hard to find a better deliverer of the ball into the box in the sqiad than the former Tranmere man. It’s been the worst kept secret for the last few weeks but that doesn’t make it any less of a positive signing.

Alfei is another attacking full back, this time on the right hand side, who debuted for Swansea in January 2011 but who has spent most of his time on loan with spells at Wrexham and, more recently, Portsmouth, in the last couple of years. He signed a new contract with the Swans in 2013 and that should say enough about expectations for the twenty two year old.

The double signing says a lot about Wilder’s plans for the formation and it looks set to be a vibrant and attacking side that takes to the field to kick off the season at home to Mansfield Town on August 9th. Added to John-Joe O’Toole, Marc Richards and Zander Diamond these two make it an excellent summer of recruitment. There’s still an outside chance of a big forward coming in but with O’Toole’s addition this week there’s less urgency around that one as initially felt.

Pre-season is in full swing and we’ve entered July – the countdown has officially begun!

Mohamed signing keeps one eye on Sixfields…

kaidmohamedAs all eyes turn towards Brazil, back home the Cobblers have completed their latest transfer to remind us that hard work is still being done on home shores to shape our beloved club ready for our own big kick off in August. That all seems a long time away at the moment with all the fanfare across the seas and on our TV screens reaching fever pitch over the next few days but it doesn’t take away from the excitement of another solid signing for Town this afternoon.

Kaid Mohamed arrives on a season long loan deal from Port Vale with the winger, who can play on either flank, coming in to fill in one of Chris Wilder’s key target positions having already tied Chris Hackett down to a fresh contract earlier in the summer. Mohammed’s experience in the lower leagues reached its peak at Cheltenham Town when he signed in 2011 and hit eleven goals in his debut season to tie with Darryl Duffy as the club’s leading scorer. The following season saw him net seven times and ended when the Cobblers knocked the Rubies out of the League Two playoffs at the semi-final stage.

Mohamed left Whaddon Road that summer to sign a two year deal with Port Vale who had just won automatic promotion to League One. He struggled to break into the first team, though, and was farmed out to AFC Wimbledon (one of his former clubs) between November and January. Towards the end of January, he joined Bristol Rovers on another loan deal and played 21 times but couldn’t prevent the Gas from relegation.

The first thing that strikes me here is the length of the loan deal – I’ve always been an advocate of long term loans rather than quick month long deals and it’s great to see Chris Wilder and co going with a full season deal for this one. It suits both parties with Vale obviously not interested in putting their faith in Mohamed in their first team and the Cobblers not tied down to a full contract should things not work out.

Despite not making too much of a mark in League One there’s no doubting his quality at this level based on those couple of seasons as one of the stars of Cheltenham’s runs to successive top seven finishes. If he can inspire the Cobblers to something of that ilk then he can probably stay for longer!

Wilder now moves on to his other targets which now sit, by my maths, a right back, a left back, a central midfielder and a target man. With the fixtures for next season out next week and the League Cup draw coming up on Tuesday there’s still plenty of things to keep some of our focus at least on the many changing scenes at Sixfields.

Sinclair signs just in time!

Emile SinclairAll through deadline day the tumbleweed that was whistling across Sixfields during the great manager hunt of January 2014 seemed to make its way back around Upton Way. Despite plenty of rumours, red herrings and internet chatter there was nothing firm and it seemed like we would have to settle for the three signings from Thursday. But then, news filtered through of a player who was inside Sixfields and taking part in a medical.

Suddenly all was not lost as the finer parts of the deal were ironed out. But boy did we leave it late! At 10:30pm, the medical was complete and by 10:40pm the paperwork seemed to be done. It wasn’t until five minutes before the end of the window, though, that the deal was complete and announced and it was a good one. Emile Sinclair joins the club initially on loan until the end of the season but with a view to a permanent, two year deal in the summer.

Sinclair, who started his career with stints with the Bradford City and Nottingham Forest youth outfits, made his name with Macclesfield Town before signing for Peterborough United in 2011. After a year and a half he fell out of favour at London Road and spent time on loan at Barnsley and Doncaster Rovers before joining Crawley Town last summer for £100,000. He’s scored twice in nine appearances so far this season.

The interesting part of this one is the clever terms that Sinclair is on loan with a view to a permanent summer move. It works for both parties with presumably the player free to leave if we’re relegated but with the Cobblers first in line to get in there with a fully-fledged two year contract in the summer when he may well have regained the sort of form that attracted Peterborough a couple of years ago. He’s definitely going to cause defences problems with his pace and power and seems a good foil for the man likely to be partnering him up front, Alan Connell.

It brings to an end an excellent couple of days for Chris Wilder with four very good (and not short term loans!) signings in and other departing including Ishmel Demontagnac’s exit earlier today.

Now that the window is closed we go full steam ahead for the great escape attempt, starting tomorrow at Cheltenham Town. I’m off to get some sleep!

McSweeney makes it three in a day…

mcsweeney

McSweeney…latest Cobblers signing

Well, they keep on coming! It’s not even deadline day and there’s now been three confirmed signings with all of them bringing in players until at least the end of the season. Following Alan Connell and Ricky Ravenhill through the door is experienced defender Leon McSweeney, a defender who has represented plenty of Football League and Conference sides during his career.

Most recently McSweeney was with Leyton Orient, where he had been for two years up until the end of last season. Before that he had time at Leicester City, Scarborough, Hucknall Town, Hednesford Town, Ilkeston Town, Cork City, Stockport County and Hartlepool United.

It means that we’ve confirmed signings of a defender, midfielder and striker today and if we can get anything close to similar in terms of numbers and quality tomorrow on deadline day then we’ll be in a much more positive position going into this last, crucial period of the season.

Meanwhile, Antonio German has extended his loan by a further month while Hallam Hope has returned to Everton. Tim Flowers, the Cobblers goalkeeping coach, has left Sixfields meaning that the entire bench will look a lot different from now on with Andy King’s departure earlier this week.

It’s set to be a big deadline day at Sixfields tomorrow…I’ll keep up with updates as much as I can!

Ravenhill returns as signing number two

Ravenhill...new Cobblers loan signing

Ravenhill…back in Cobblers colours!

Chris Wilder’s second signing of the transfer window is likely to be another popular one – Ricky Ravenhill has re-joined the club but this time on an eighteen month contract. The midfielder returned to Bradford just after Aidy Boothroyd was sacked and was playing for the Bantams as recently as Tuesday night as he came off the bench for the final few minutes of their 0-0 draw with Preston North End but is now a permanent member of the Cobblers squad.

We all know exactly what the 33 year old can bring to the middle of the park after his loan spell in November and December and was one of the stand out players in the period that led to Boothroyd departing. A battling, ball winning midfielder is another key component of any League Two side and to get someone in who knows the club, knows the players and can get straight into this dog fight at the bottom is perfect.

Ravenhill has plenty of experience in the Football League having represented the likes of Barnsley (where he came through the youth ranks), Doncaster Rovers, Grimsby Town, Darlington, Notts County and Chester before joining Bradford in 2011, initially on loan.

He will, I’m sure, be welcomed back  here with open arms and he joins Alan Connell by going straight into the squad for the Cheltenham game on Saturday afternoon.