Hoganson the hot topic as Town prepare for Derby

Tonight the Cobblers welcome back to Sixfields a man who came all the way through the ranks, earned two Player of the Year awards and moved on this summer to higher ground in the Championship. Michael Jacobs makes his quick return to the club after signing for Derby County a few weeks ago and he should get a good welcome from the fans that watched him mature into a player fit for the big step up.

Had it not been for another man who had left the club in the last week then we would all be talking about Cracker’s return. But Michael Hoganson, the left sided player who shone in the friendly at Cogenhoe and who was subsequently offered a deal to sign on a one year deal with Town, may well be in the visitor’s dressing room rather than the home one after turning out for the Rams in their 1-0 win over Burton at the weekend (Jacobs netted the only goal in that one).

It’s fair enough that Hoganson is a free agent and can talk to any club he wants to about his future but the gripe that many have is that he played for another club whilst our offer was there, essentially taking part in a trial for County. It’ll be interesting to see how things work out this evening with the potential there that Hoganson could be in either squad!

There are three friendlies and two weeks to go until the season starts now and preparation needs to step up a notch as we close in on the big kick off. Still illusive are a at least one centre back (preferably with a bit of pace) and a goalkeeper, though Conor Roberts may get another shot at earning a short term deal this evening.

I’ll be starting to upload my League Two Preview articles in the next week or so, so come back for those…hopefully will be sticking the first lot up on Monday 6th August with four teams previewed per day!

Hoganson becoming the star of pre-season

Hoganson in his Newcastle days

The stand out player of the pre-season preparations so far isn’t even a Cobblers player…yet. Left sided whizz kid Michael Hoganson has impressed enough to earn a contract offer from Aidy Boothroyd and score twice in last night’s 4-0 win at Cogenhoe United. Having come through the training camp in Croatia as the only trialist to earn an offer, Hoganson’s name was then the one that was coming up in conversations with visitors to the two friendlies back in England so far.

After the problems we had on that side of the pitch last season, it would be a good coup to tie down the former Newcastle youngster who is likely to have other clubs interested and hovering. Aidy Boothroyd has made the offer and after last night’s match stated that it’s there and that it’s not going to be improved despite some possible haggling from the players’ agent.

Joe Widdowson and Ishmel Demontagnac are already new comers to the left hand side of the team so there would certainly be competition for places should Boothroyd complete the deal but a centre back remains elusive.

I fear that we’re waiting too long for a certain Clarke Carlisle. I would love Carlisle to sign but from the noises coming out of Sixfields it sounds like we’re waiting for him before exploring other options. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to wait this long so I’m sure there are others around but my concern is that we hang out for too long and end up picking up the pieces from what’s left of the transfer window offerings.

Anyway, it was good to hear of a victory last night, even if it’s not one to shout to the rooftops about (none of the friendlies will be) and now it’s all about getting back to Sixfields for the three home friendlies of the summer against Chelsea Under 21s, West Ham United and Derby County. We’re down to under three weeks before it all kicks off now and with the Olympics now here it should fly by!

Let the countdown begin!

After an intense training camp, the Cobblers are back on English soil and now the countdown can well and truly begin for the start of the 2011/12 season. With only a month to go, the excitement has started to kick in and there’s even an impromptu friendly success to enjoy as we start counting down the days. The Cobblers eased through a match with local Croatian side Novigrad and hit them for six in a 6-1 win that was a reward for the hard graft put in over the week long training camp.

A key highlight of the match was Jake Robinson’s hat-trick and whilst it was, as we say every year, “only a friendly”, it doesn’t take away the relief of finally seeing his name on the Town score sheet again. Robinson struggled to get going under Gary Johnson and appeared to lose all sense of confidence in front of goal, failing to score all season in his maiden campaign in a Cobblers shirt. It was to his credit though that he picked himself up and promised to fight for his place in the face of new summer arrivals in attacking positions. This little cameo should do him the world of good.

There are some who think he should be on the way out but to me he’s still got something left to give. The few times I saw him last season he showed promise and you get the feeling that there’s a lot more to come. If we’re to be successful we need utility men like Robinson, who can play anywhere along the attacking line, and I don’t think we should be giving up on him just yet.

Elsewhere, only one trialist who made the trip to Croatia, Michael Hoganson, has been kept on for a longer period under the watchful eye of Aidy Boothroyd and his goal in the friendly win can’t have done his chances any harm at all.

There’s still a centre back to try and hunt down with that position the only one left to properly fill. If that has to be a loan then so be it but I would much prefer to see a season long deal take place than a short term one. An experience head with a knack for leadership are the essentials for anyone wanting to apply.

It’s all shaping up nicely with the first friendly back here set up for this Saturday as we visit Corby Town where there will be a reunion with their new boss, and Cobblers legend, Ian Sampson!