Cobblers midfielder Crooks in line for playing return in St Albans friendly

Matt Crooks has taken a full part in pre-season training
Matt Crooks has taken a full part in pre-season training

Midfielder Matt Crooks is in line to feature for the Cobblers in Saturday’s second pre-season friendly at St Albans City (ko 12.30pm), while Dean Bowditch is also making good progress in his recovery from injury.

Crooks sat out Town’s opening friendly against Sileby Rangers on Tuesday evening when Morgan Roberts and Sam Foley scored second-half goals in a 2-0 victory.

Cobblers boss Dean Austin

Cobblers boss Dean Austin

The 24-year-old midfielder struggled with persistent hamstring troubles throughout the second half of last season, forcing him to miss several games, and the club are keen to avoid taking any unnecessary risks as they ease him into pre-season.

But manager Dean Austin is happy with how Crooks has trained since returning from the summer break and

says there’s every chance he will feature at St Albans on Saturday.

Austin said: “Obviously Crooksy was injured towards the end of the season so we’ve taken it pretty steady with him through the summer to make sure he recovers.

“He’s come back in for pre-season and he looks in absolutely tip-top physical condition, but we weren’t looking to play him in the first game - it was more to give him a good couple of weeks training under his belt.

“I don’t see any reason why he won’t feature on Saturday.”

Bowditch, meanwhile, picked up an injury while on loan at Stevenage at the end of last term but he could be back involved within the next week or so.

“Dean is coming along really well,” added Austin.

“He’s made rapid progress and he should be back with the group within the next seven to 10 days.

“He’s recovering well and we’ll have him back soon.”

Saturday’s friendly at Clarence Park against the National League South club will again see a mix of two different Cobblers teams taking to the pitch each half as they gradually step up their preparations ahead of the new season.

“It’ll be more of the same,” said Austin.

“St Albans give us more of a test because they have more quality but we want to be able to give ourselves a test and jump up the levels to see where we are.

“It’ll be two different teams again.

“It won’t be the same as against Sileby but it’ll be a mixture and a similar type of situation where I’m changing it up.”

It will also be a special day for Austin, as he takes his Cobblers team to his home town, and to the club where started his senior career, after being released as a youngster by Watford.