Cobblers boss Hasselbaink not ruling out O’Toole playing through the pain barrier

John-Joe O'Toole is nearing full fitness
John-Joe O'Toole is nearing full fitness

Boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink says John-Joe O’Toole could yet play through the pain barrier and make his return for the Cobblers in their crucial Sky Bet League One clash at fellow strugglers Oldham Athletic on Saturday.

The midfielder is yet to return to full training, as he tries to recover from the bruising he suffered to a bone in his ankle in the 3-0 defeat to Scunthorpe United last month.

It’s one of those things with John-Joe. He has a bruised a bone in his ankle, so it is how much pain he can take

Cobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

O’Toole is back doing running work, and Hasselbaink feels the trip to Boundary Park may well come too soon for him, but he is not ruling out the player declaring himself fit and ready to play.

“I think it will be a little too early for John-Joe,” said the Town manager. “But he is running, and you never know with him.

“He might say tomorrow ‘I want to be part of the group’, and if he does that he will be available for Saturday.

“It’s one of those things with him. He has a bruised a bone in his ankle, so it is how much pain he can take.

“We know that John-Joe can take a lot of pain, so things can change from one day to another to see if he’s available.”

Talking to the media on Tuesday morning, Hasselbaink also confirmed that striker Chris Long will be fit to take on the Latics despite suffering an ankle sprain in the weekend Checkatrade Trophy defeat at Portsmouth.

Regan Poole also suffered an ankle knock at Fratton Park, but he too is okay, as is Daniel Powell, and slowly and surely it seems the Cobblers’ injured players are all getting back to fitness, which will be a big relief to the Town boss.

“We are working extremely hard behind the scenes to get everybody fit, and to make the squad as big as possible so we can have the competition,” said Hasselbaink.

“We want it so people are breathing behind each other’s backs for that shirt, and we are doing everything in our power to get everybody back.”

Definitely out of contention for the weekend is striker Alex Revell. although he is on the mend after his groin operation, while right-back Aaron Phillips is still not ready to resume playing following the thigh injury he suffered at Charlton in August.

“Alex Revell is all good, and he has got the all clear to start running,” revealed Hasselbaink. “We should see him with the group again in the next week to 10 days.

“Aaron is training with the group, but we are still putting him in and out, and swapping and changing to get the workload right and the confidence, but he is training again.”