Luke Guttridge admits he has no divine right to be instantly restored to the Cobblers first team and is ready to fight for a place in the starting line-up.
Guttridge has missed almost three months of action with a broken metatarsal that required an operation, and in that time 17-year-old Lewis Hornby has become a fixture in central midfield.
Hornby has performed so well that he has now been offered a professional contract with the club, the second youth-teamer to achieve that this season after goalkeeper Dean Snedker turned pro in August.
Guttridge played the final half an hour of the 3-1 win over Dagenham & Redbridge on New Year’s Day, replacing Hornby for his first appearance since October 2.
Some feel that is a sign of things to come in the second half of the season, but Guttridge knows he will have to fight to get back in.
“He (Hornby) has done absolutely fantastic for us and I’ve been saying to him after every game that he’s probably been one of our best players,” he said.
“Just because I’m fit again it doesn’t mean I’m going to come straight back into the side, not by a long stretch of the imagination.
“If he’s playing well and keeping his place then it’s up to me to fight and prove myself worth of getting back into the team.
“There’s no reason why I should start playing straight away and you need that competition, every football club needs that if they want to be successful.
“Lewis has been brilliant this season and so has Ems (Huws) from Man City, they’ve both done very well and people forget they’re only young lads.”