Dean Bowditch admitted he was delighted to get out on the pitch and playing for the Cobblers again after enduring a ‘difficult time’ over the summer.
The 32-year-old played for the first time since the end of March on Thursday night, coming on for the second half of Town’s pre-season friendly win over Hull City Under-23s in Spain.
It was his first football of any kind since damaging a knee in training while on loan at Stevenage in March, and his first run-out for the Cobblers since December 2 last year.
Bowditch had to undergo an operation following the injury, and spent time at St George’s Park doing his rehabilitation, but he returned to training with the Cobblers a fortnight ago, and has taken a full part in sessions at the squad’s training base in Alicante.
Frozen out of the Cobblers first team picture by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, it seems Bowditch is very much part of Dean Austin’s plans, with the Town boss saying this week the former Milton Keynes Dons man is his ‘type of footballer’.
That will be another boost for the forward, who has only started five times for the Cobblers since joining a year ago, and following his run-out against Hull, he said: “”I feel really good.
“I was unlucky when I went out on loan to get injured the way I did.
“You don’t expect to get injured in training and then have an operation a few weeks later, and it has been a difficult time for me over the summer.
“I have been working hard, and it is nice to get back out on the pitch and back in with the lads, because at the end of the day I just want to play football.”
Bowditch felt the match against the Tigers youngsters was a worthwhile exercise for the Cobblers, with goals from Sam Hoskins, Aaron Pierre and Shaun McWilliams sealing a 3-1 win after Hull had gone 1-0 up at the start of the second half.
“It was a good runout for the boys, good for the fitness as well because it has been tough out here with the heat,” said Bowditch.
“Hull’s young lads did very well against us, and obviously going in front as well and putting us under a bit of pressure.
“They had loads of energy which meant the lads had to put the work in which was great to see.
“We started to get the ball down and play in the second half and began to control the game a bit more with our shape and got the goals we wanted in the end, but’s not about the result.
“t’s about reacting as well, and not getting too down when you go a goal behind, even in games like this.
“You could see boys when Hull scored, they were disappointed and you have to react to that and the lads did really to do that. It was a good runout, and it’s been a good week.”
The Cobblers were put through their paces in Spain for a final time on Friday morning, before flying back to the UK.
The team will be given Saturday off before returning to duty at the club’s open day at the PTS Academy Stadium on Sunday (start 10am), and they then have home friendlies against Barnet (Tuesday) and a Manchester United XI (Friday) next week.
So was the trip to Alicante worthwhile? Bowditch certainly thinks so.
“It has been great facilities, they have everything here, the pitches have been fantastic,” he said.
“The heat helps with your fitness and stuff like that, and there has been a good bit of team bonding as well, so it has been a great week.”