Cobblers goalkeeper Lee Nicholls has welcomed the possibility of key players returning to the fray for Thursday’s play-off semi-final with Cheltenham Town.
But the on-loan shot-stopper has also hailed the strength of the club’s squad, and the crop of emerging talent coming through the Sixfields ranks.
The Cobblers were comfortable 2-0 winners over Barnet in their final league game of the season on Saturday, and won the game with a starting line up that didn’t feature the likes of Chris Hackett, Adebayo Akinfenwa, Kelvin Langmead, Joe Widdowson, Clive Platt, Ishmel Demontagnac and John Johnson.
Nearly all of those players could come into contention for a starting role against the Robins at a packed Sixfields on Thursday (ko 7.45pm), but Nicholls believes even if they don’t, Town will be well equipped for the challenge.
“Saturday showed how good the squad is,” said the man on loan from Premier League side Wigan Athletic.
“We have good young lads coming through in Claudio Dias, David Moyo and Lewis Hornby, who has had a great season.
“I think it proves if the squad needs to be used then I don’t think the gaffer would have any qualms about putting anybody in.
“But we do have key men coming back, and that is only going to make things better for us.”
Nicholls is in buoyant mood ahead of the Cheltenham double header, and is proud of the team’s achievement of finishing in the top seven in npower League Two.
“I think at the beginning of the season we would have taken a place in the play-offs, I think everybody in the squad would have,” said Nicholls.
“Getting into the play-offs shows how well we have done this season, how quickly we have been put together and and how well we have gelled.”
The Cobblers saw an automatic promotion place slip through their fingers in the closing weeks of the campaign, but Nicholls says any despondency from the failure to clinch a top three place has long since gone.
Indeed, he is looking forward to the play-off tilt.
“The play-offs are probably the best way to go up, but a few people would rather not go through it if you’re not going to win it,” he said.
“To not win it would hurt that bit more, knowing that you have worked so hard all season and it then gets taken away from you.
“But I think we have good momentum now.”