Cobblers defender Barnett ready for the pre-season ‘slog’

Cobblers central defender Leon Barnett
Cobblers central defender Leon Barnett

This time next week, the Cobblers players will be into their second day of pre-season training, and central defender Leon Barnett can’t wait to get back to work - even though he knows it will be painful!

The Town squad reports back following their summer break on Monday (June 25) and the preparations for the new Sky Bet League Two season will begin in earnest.

You can do as much running as you want, coming back in after the summer is always going to be a bit of a slog

Cobblers defender Leon Barnett

Dean Austin will have three weeks to put his players through plenty of work before they head off to Spain for their training camp on July 14, but the first pre-season friendly at Sileby Rangers is on July 3, and only two weeks away.

“I am looking forward to it, although pre-season is never fun,” said Barnett, who last week signed a new contract to stay with the club until at least the summer of 2019.

“All the running in the heat is never fun, but it will be good to get back and see the boys and hear how they got on over the summer, and then knuckle down to the hard work.”

All the players have had their fitness programmes to stick to over the summer, but Barnett says getting out on the training field at Moulton College will still be a shock to the system, no matter how much preparation players have put in.

“You are never in good shape for pre-season,” said the former Wigan Athletic and Norwich City man.

“You can do as much running as you want, coming back in after the summer is always going to be a bit of a slog.

“All you can do is get your head down, get through it, and then kick on with the rest of the season.”

The Cobblers may have been relegated from league one at the end of last season, but Barnett was encouraged by the impact Dean Austin had during his caretaker stint following the sacking of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

And he is excited at the prospect of working under him again, after Austin was handed the top job on a permanent basis last month.

Asked about how he found working with Austin, Barnett said: “I have loved it.

“From my personal view, he is one of the best coaches I have had, in terms of what he wants to get out of you on a Saturday.

“The stuff he does during the week is spot on, and he has a game plan, and his game plan was exciting.

“I am looking forward to seeing more of it next season.”

The Cobblers will be aiming to bounce straight back out of league two following their relegation, and Barnett believes the players are capable of doing just that.

“I like to think we have all the attributes we need in our squad,” said the 32-year-old.

“I am looking forward to it as I don’t think I have played many games in league two, and it is a challenge and something else I can add to my CV.

“Hopefully it is going to be a positive season and we can get back to league one.”

Barnett goes into the new season as one of the elder statesmen in the Cobblers squad, and he says he will be happy to help out the younger players, with a large chunk of the group still teenagers.

“Now I am one of the older players in the squad, I can help the younger ones overcome problems they might come across on the pitch, or on the training ground,” said Barnett, who made his senior debut for Luton Town back in 2002.

“If they don’t want to ask the gaffer, then I am sure they can come and ask me, or ask Buchs (David Buchanan). I look forward to it and try to help the younger players as much as I can.”