Boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has hailed the Cobblers’ ‘quiet man’ John-Joe O’Toole.
The Town talisman returned to the starting line-up for the first time in a month last weekend, and was an inspiration as Walsall were beaten 2-1 at Sixfields.
O’Toole was played virtually alongside striker Chris Long, and claimed an assist for the first and equalising goal.
He was a constant pest to the Walsall defenders, and his presence lifted his team-mates’ performance, but Hasselbaink has revealed that the former Bristol Rovers man is not somebody who gets vocal, he just lets his actions do the talking.
“JJ was important, and he is a focal point, although he doesn’t speak that much,” said the Town boss. “You don’t hear him much out on the pitch, on the training field or in the dressing room, but it is just his presence.
“His presence is very important. The other players know he is going to battle, he is going to show that he wants to have a fight, and that is important.
You don’t hear him (O’Toole) much out on the pitch, on the training field or in the dressing room, but it is just his presenceCobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
“Also, when the fans see him on the pitch they are happier, so they scream a little bit more for the team, and that helps.”
With O’Toole back in action, Hasselbaink knows he has to be careful with one of his prize assets, especially as the player has still not fully recovered from his bruised ankle.
The Cobblers are facing four matches in the space of just nine days over the festive period, starting with Saturday’s visit of Blackburn Rovers (ko 2pm), and the Dutchman admits he is going to have to manage O’Toole’s workload.
“I am very wary with JJ’s fitness. We weren’t planning to play him for 90 minutes (against Walsall), but I had to risk it,” he said.
“That is why we gave him Monday off, to give him extra recovery time, and I am wary.
“He is playing with a bit of pain, and I know the pain won’t go that easy and it will be a while before that pain has gone. But he is the kind of lad that does that, and can do that, but we will have to see over Christmas how we are going to manage it.
“The most important game is Blackburn, and then we will see what to do .”