Diamond impressed by progress of Cobblers defender McDonald

IMPRESSIVE PARTNERSHIP - Zander Diamond and Rod McDonald
IMPRESSIVE PARTNERSHIP - Zander Diamond and Rod McDonald
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Zander Diamond has heaped praise on Rod McDonald, saying he believes his rookie central defensive partner has now made a Cobblers starting place his own.

McDonald is 23-years-old, but manager Chris Wilder has said he is ‘a baby’ in Football League terms, although it is clear he is maturing very quickly.

Coming from non-League into league two, it is a difficult place to learn your trade, but he seems to have slotted in really well

Cobblers defender Zander Diamond on Rod McDonald

The Liverpool-born defender began his career as a youth player at Stoke City in 2009, and then led a nomadic lifestyle as he played for a series of clubs, including Nantwich, Stafford Rangers and Hereford United, before playing last season for AFC Telford United in National League North, which is the same level as Town’s county neighbours Brackley Town.

Following the release of Lee Collins at the end of last season, Wilder was in the market for a left-sided central defender and McDonald was invited for a trial at the Cobblers in the summer.

After impressing, McDonald was handed a one-year contract, and thanks to injuries to both Diamond and Ryan Cresswell, found himself thrown into more first-team action than he might have anticipated.

There were teething problems, and at times McDonald did struggle to get to grips with life as a league two centre back, but he has grown in stature as the season has gone on.

In recent weeks he and Diamond turned in excellent performances against Stevenage and Coventry City, and McDonald was man-of-the-match in last Saturday’s 1-0 win over Mansfield Town - a game that saw the Cobblers keep their first clean sheet since September 12.

Diamond, who has more than 350 senior appearances to his name for Aberdeen, Burton Albion and the Cobblers, has been impressed.

“Rod has done well,” said the 30-year-old. “We travel in together every day, so that is a bonus as well as we get to know each other personally too.

“On the pitch he has flourished.

“Coming from non-League into league two, it is a difficult place to learn your trade, but he seems to have slotted in really well.

“Each game going past, you can see the confidence growing in him, and we seem to have a good understanding, and long may that continue.”

And he added: “It is great credit to him, because he has no experience at this level, but to come in and put the kind performances he has is really impressive.

“At Coventry he did really, really well, on Saturday he didn’t put a foot out of place, and if we have these players coming in hungry to do well, and the manager signed a few in the summer, it is good.

“Rod has come in hungry, wanting to do well, wanting to learn and he is getting the fruits his work deserves.

“He is listening and putting things into action, and the jersey is his own at the minute because he is playing really well.”