Boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has spoken of the need to improve the balance of the Cobblers squad in the January transfer window.
Hasselbaink inherited a big squad from previous boss Justin Edinburgh, but like his predecessor has struggled to get the best out of a group that has undoubted ability, but simply hasn’t gelled.
And the Dutchman has been outlining where he feels the problems lie, with the main one of course being the squad is top heavy with central midfielders - and lacking natural width.
January is expected to be a busy one at Sixfields, with the Cobblers needing to act to arrest a slump that has seen the team drop to second bottom in Sky Bet League One.
Hasselbaink has revealed he already has targets in mind, and said: “We need to bring some new faces in, but we also need to work with the people that are here, because the majority are still going to be here.
“In that aspect, everybody knows we need help in certain areas, or we need competition in certain areas, because the squad is unbalanced.
I have eight central midfield players and only three wide players, and of the three wide players, one has had a long-term knee injury, and the other two are injured. So the balance of the team has to be betterCobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
“For instance, I have eight central midfield players and only three wide players, and of the three wide players, one has had a long-term knee injury, and the other two are injured.
“So the balance of the team has to be better.”
Edinburgh said many times over the summer and the weeks leading up to the season starting that his recruitment was built around the team playing three central defenders and wing-backs.
But Hasselbaink says the squad does not suit that formation at all.
“If I look at playing three at the back it is going to be very difficult, because I don’t think we have the full-backs that complement that system, and I think we’re better with four at the back,” said the Town manager.
“If we look at the squad, we need to improve that, to make it more versatile.”
And he added: “I don’t want to make excuses, and they are not excuses, they are the facts.
“If you look at the full-backs, we have to play Brendan Moloney week in, week out, and if you look at Brendan’s load then he is okay when it is Saturday-to-Saturday.
“If you look at his injury history and how many games he has played in the past three or four years, he has played around the 25/26 games every season.
“He has already played 20 matches this season, as we have Aaron Phillips out with a long-term injury, so that means we tried different players there.
“We tried Shaun McWilliams there, we tried Regan Poole there, and those kind of things don’t help.
“You always have injuries in the season, but you also try to get a balanced team where certain people can play in different positions, and want to play different positions, and at times it has been hard.
“But nevertheless you need to go on, and I can’t feel sorry for myself.
“We have to try to make the best of it, and then in January we have to try to see if we can improve the squad, so we can make it easier so we can adapt quicker and be more versatile if we have to.”