Jefferson Lake’s Cobblers v Bristol Rovers preview: Luke’s chance to shine

BACK IN THE FRAME - Cobblers midfielder Luke Guttridge is set for a recall for tonight's clash with Bristol Rovers
BACK IN THE FRAME - Cobblers midfielder Luke Guttridge is set for a recall for tonight's clash with Bristol Rovers

In a recent interview, Luke Guttridge remarked how the stabilising qualities of parenthood have changed his on-field character.

The theory goes that, after fathering a daughter two years ago, Guttridge is a more calm person when he crosses the white line.

Although the midfielder has had his name taken by five referees so far this season, he admits he is more likely to bite his lip than dispense some harsh words for his opponent.

But just recently he has found himself frozen out of the first team - quite literally, given the recent temperatures.

For the entire duration of the 1-1 draw at Wimbledon and the 1-0 victory over Plymouth, Guttridge was forced to watch from the substitutes’ bench, deprived of even a brief cameo in what were two admittedly tight games.

One school of thought - and it is not worth second-guessing any football manager, least of all Aidy Boothroyd - is that Guttridge has been intentionally kept away from the first 11, for tactical reasons and because of the reaction such a policy would elicit.

It is worth pointing out, though, that Boothroyd has commented that Guttridge has not been selected because he is yet to reach the levels he was at prior to the foot injury he sustained in October.

Playing the midfielder against Bristol Rovers at Sixfields tonight (ko 7.45pm), would represent the unleashing of a player for whom the fire is likely to be blazing after an inactive couple of matches.

It could prove to be a masterstroke because Guttridge was an integral part of the club’s successful fight against relegation and there is no reason to suggest he would not be a key man in their battle to exit the division at the correct end.

Players such as Guttridge were ones signed with specific criteria in mind - the psychological experience of being involved with a promotion but also the ability to contribute physically both in the short and medium-term.

In other words, not quick-fix players who would be over the hill once the initial stage of the job was completed.

There are others - Chris Hackett to name one - who were brought in for similar reasons.

Now, in the ‘business end’ of the season - 12 games to go; six at home, six away - it is time for such players to exhibit the (largely psychological) qualities that have won promotions at other clubs.

For Guttridge, this might just include a return to the spiteful old days.