Central defender Leon Barnett admits that confidence in the Cobblers camp has been hit by their current three-match losing streak.
After putting together an encouraging six-match unbeaten run, in the past 10 days Town have lost twice to Scunthorpe United, 1-0 in the FA Cup and 3-0 in Sky Bet League One, and then on Tuesday were beaten 2-0 at Plymouth Argyle.
It was an unexpected and damaging defeat at Home Park against a side who had previously won just one game at home all season, with the Cobblers being undone by two headers from Sonny Bradley at set-pieces.
Barnett made his return from a long-term Achilles injury in Devon, coming on as a second-half substitute for Aaron Pierre for his first action since September 19, and it wasn’t the ideal return to playing action for the former Norwich City and Wigan Athletic man.
And he admitted: “I think we probably need a little bit more confidence.
“We had that six-game unbeaten run which was great, especially when you’re fighting for every point, but to go to Plymouth and concede two sloppy goals is sloppy.
“But we’ve just got to stay positive.
“Obviously no-one likes losing and no-one in any team or any sportsman likes losing, so everyone’s very disappointed but you have to try and take the positives and then move onto the next game.
“We look forward to the game on Saturday and it’s a massive game for us.”
It is indeed a massive game.
The Cobblers entertain rock-bottom Bury knowing a defeat could see them bottom of the league one table on Saturday evening, and Barnett accepts they will have to turn in a much-improved performance from the one they managed at Plymouth, who coasted to victory.
“We were fighting for the three points but they got them and they probably deserved it a bit more than us,” said the former defender, who signed for the Cobblers after leaving Bury in the summer.
“I don’t know what to say really. You could see it hurt and it wasn’t to be.
“I think if you look during the season we haven’t really conceded from set-pieces, so it’s disappointing for it to happen against a team like Plymouth.
“Against teams further up the table we haven’t conceded goals from set-plays so to go here and give away two sloppy goals is disappointing.”
Barnett’s return was one of the few positves for Cobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink as it means he now has competition and choice for the central defensive areas, with Ryan McGivern also pushing Ash Taylor and Aaron Pierre for their places in the first team.
Barnett was delighted to be back out playing again, and is now keeping his fingers crossed he can be in the shake-up to face his former team-mates at Sixfields on Saturday.
“It’s nice to dust off the cobwebs,” said Barnett. “If the manager needs me, I’m obviously more than happy. I want to play like everyone else.
“We’ve got Ryan fighting for a position as well and we’ll go into training and try to pick ourselves up and work on Bury and see how it goes.”