Chris Wilder once declared ‘they should bin it’, but you won’t hear current Cobblers boss Dean Austin bad mouthing the Football League Trophy.
Indeed, Austin believes the much-maligned tournament, now called the Checkatrade Trophy, is ‘very, very important’, and is urging his players to grab a rare opportunity to fight their way to a Wembley cup final, starting with Tuesday night’s opening group game against Wycombe Wanderers at the PTS Academy Stadium (ko 7.45pm).
Former Town boss Wilder is far from being alone in his dislike of a tournament that many managers see as little more than a distraction from the serious business of league football, but Austin is a fan of the competition, and says he and his players will be going all out to win it this season.
The Town boss has confirmed there will be changes to his team for the clash with the Chairboys, but that is more about giving hungry players the chance to prove their worth, rather than fielding a weakened team.
Asked if the Checkatrade Trophy is a chance to give his squad players a runout, Austin was adamant when he said: “I don’t see this game as a runout for players.
“I see it as a very, very important competition with an opportunity to go to Wembley at the end of it.
“I think opportunities for players to play in a cup final at Wembley don’t come around too often, so for me it is a very, very important competition.
“We will be taking it very seriously, and this is a game I want to win.”
The Cobblers go into the clash against league one outfit Wycombe off the back of a 1-1 draw with Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, and although the result wasn’t what Austin wanted, on reflection he was pleased with his team’s performance.
“Watching the game back again, we know it is a game that we should win,” said the Cobblers boss.
“But we are doing a hell of a lot of things right, and when you are doing a hell of a lot of things right you have to keep focus, and it will turn.
“We are not going to get too low when we are only six games into the season and we are four points outside the play-offs.
“There is a long, long, long way to go yet.”
Tickets are available for the clash with Wycombe at the PTS Academy Stadium, priced at just £5 for adults and senior citizens, and £1 for under-18s.