David Buchanan says this is the best season of his career - and he wants the Cobblers to walk away from Portsmouth on the final day of the season as the undispited ‘number one’ team in Sky Bet League Two.
The left-back has been an ever-present in the Town team since signing last summer from Preston North End, starting every one of the Cobblers’ 45 fixtures this season, and he will make it 46 against Newport County at Sixfields on Good Friday afternoon (ko 3pm).
The 29-year-old was part of a promotion campaign last year as Preston went up from league one to the Championship via the play-offs, but he didn’t play from January onwards after suffering an injury, and then being unable to force his way back into the team.
He has had no such issues this time around, and Buchanan says he has loved every minute - and there have been a lot of them! - of what has been an action-packed campaign. But he and his team-mates are now determined to finish the job.
“Throughout my career, this is the best season, without question,” said Buchanan.
“To be in the position we are with nine games to go and to be 11 points clear of the team in second and with a fantastic opportunity to lift a trophy.
“That’s what we’re all focusing on – at the start of the season everyone wants to finish as number one, and for the first 37 games we’ve proved that we’re the best team in the league.
“We want to prove, come that final day at Portsmouth when it’s all said and done, that we are number one in the league.”
There is still work to be done ahead of that Fratton Park trip though, and Buchanan is targeting a profitable Easter as the Cobblers close in on their first target of promotion, with Town following up Friday’s clash with Newport with a trip to Mansfield Town on Monday.
“We are pretty close,” said Buchanan. “The job is not mathematically done, but we know we’re near and our aim is just to play each game as it comes, as we have done all year.
“You have probably heard that all season, and it is a massive cliche in football and one that everybody uses, but it really is important just to focus on Newport.
“They went away to Pompey a couple of weeks ago and turned them over 3-0, and that job in hand this weekend is what we are focusing on first and foremost.
“After that we will look to the Mansfield game.
“I think if we get a good points return out of these two games, then we could be really close.”
And he added: “I love playing over the Easter weekend because you get two games in quick succession.
“There aren’t many training days and a lot of playing, which every footballer wants because you want to play as many games as you can.
“For me and the rest of the club, we are close to getting over that line and we just want to win as many games as possible.”
Buchanan was talking to the media at Sixfields, and he had a big smile on his face as he watched workmen installing the new seats in the east stand.
And the left-back is, like everybody at the club, looking forward to seeing some life in that area of the ground in the last four games of the campaign.
“It will be massive,” admitted Buchanan. “All along, from the first ball that was kicked this season, the fans and the players have been together through thick and thin.
“Every game they have been right behind us, whether we have been behind in games or in front.
“It is going to be 2,000 more Cobblers in here, and that is all the better for the players.”
One thing Buchanan is likely to relinquish at some point this weekend is the captain’s armband, with the return of Marc Richards from injury imminent.
The Rochdale-born defender admits he has been proud to skipper the side in Richards’ absence, but says losing the armband won’t make any difference to his commitment to the cause.
“Being captain is something I am proud,” said Buchanan. “The gaffer sees me as a leader in the dressing room, and somebody he trusts to go out there and be a leader on the pitch.
“But when you are out there playing you don’t really focus on whoever has the armband, as we are 11 players and we are all as one. But it is nice I am chosen to be captain when Marc’s not playing.
“For me it doesn’t matter who the captain is, I like to give 100 per cent every game, I try my best to leave everything I can out on the field for the team-mates and the manager.”