Boost for Cobblers boss Hasselbaink with O’Toole set to be fit for Oxford trip

WINNING HIS FITNESS FIGHT - Cobblers midfielder John-Joe O'Toole
WINNING HIS FITNESS FIGHT - Cobblers midfielder John-Joe O'Toole

John-Joe O’Toole is on course to be fit for the Cobblers’ Sky Bet League One trip to Oxford United on Saturday.

The midfielder picked up an injury during last weekend’s FA Cup first round draw with Scunthorpe United, and there were initial fears he had picked up an Achilles problem.

TOUCH AND GO - Sam Hoskins picked up an injury in ther 0-0 draw with Scunthorpe

TOUCH AND GO - Sam Hoskins picked up an injury in ther 0-0 draw with Scunthorpe

Thankfully that isn’t the case, it is just a slight ankle sprain, and O’Toole is expected to return to full training ahead of the trip to the Kassam Stadium.

Attacker Sam Hoskins was also taken off during the stalemate with the Iron, and he has been rated as ‘touch and go’ to face Oxford.

Matt Crooks and Brendan Moloney, who both returned to action after knee injuries in Tuesday night’s Checkatrade Trophy clsash with Southampton Under-21s, came through that test unscathed and are available for the weekend, but it’s not such good news on Alex Revell.

The striker, who missed three games due to suspension after being sent-off in the 6-0 defeat to Bristol Rovers last month, has since picked up a groin injury in training, and although it is not deemed as serious, he is out of the weekend date across the county border.

Elsewhere on the injury front, right-back Aaron Phillips (thigh strain) is in training and close to being available for selection, and central defender Leon Barnett is also nearing full fitness following his Achilles injury.

The former Norwich City and Wigan man is doing running and ballwork in training.

That is encouraging news for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, but the biggest relief for the Cobblers boss is that key man O’Toole has avoided another serious injury.

The 29-year-old only returned to action in mid-October after missing the start of the season with a groin problem, and is just getting himself up to speed after six months out of the game.

“John-Joe is doing better, and he is starting to run again today,” said Hasselbaink at Wednesday morning’s press conference.

“It is his ankle. We thought it was his Achilles, but luckily it is not because the Achilles is a very difficult one, but it was his ankle.

“He landed a little bit strangely and got some fluid on it and couldn’t put any power in it.

“It is a lot better now, the fluid has gone, and we will see if he can do some part of the training today.”

Hasselbaink was also pleased with the return of Crooks and Moloney in the 3-3 draw with Southampton, but is keeping his cards close to his chest whether the pair will be involved against Oxford.

“We will have a look at it,” said the Town manager. “They looked good, but will they be involved? They have a chance.”