Hasselbaink defends McWilliams substitution and explains Buchanan recall

BACK FROM THE COLD: David Buchanan captained the Cobblers on his return to the team against Charlton,  his first start since January 6. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds
BACK FROM THE COLD: David Buchanan captained the Cobblers on his return to the team against Charlton, his first start since January 6. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds

For the second game running Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was forced to defend his decision to substitute midfielder Shaun McWilliams after the move generated a chorus of boos and general discontent among Cobblers fans.

After withdrawing McWilliams for Gboly Ariyibi at Fleetwood Town last weekend, Hasselbaink made a similar move on Good Friday when Hildeberto Pereira was the man chosen to come for the academy graduate 52 minutes into Northampton’s thumping 4-0 defeat at the hands of Charlton Athletic.

Neither decision paid off but Hasselbaink was confident he had made the right call on both occasions, explaining: “Do I want to take him off? No. But he had a yellow card. At Fleetwood, he was just coming back after a long time and I need to look after him as well.

“At that moment of time, in Friday’s game, I had to go for it and he’s on a yellow card. He’s making tackles and he’s not going to pull out and we can’t afford to play against 10 men and then on Monday we’ve got another match.

“I’m already without John-Joe (O’Toole) and it was the same for Brendan (Moloney) in the first-half because he had a yellow card and I have to think about all of the facts.

“It’s going to be worse for us if I left him on because he was now pulling out of tackles and that’s also not good for us.

“I do understand the frustration of the fans, don’t get me wrong, but try to understand as well that I’m trying to make a decision for the right reasons.

“Before I came here, he (McWilliams) didn’t play that much. With me, he’s played a lot of matches and I like Shaun. I understand that he’s liked by fans but it’s a decision that I would have taken again.”

McWilliams’ substitution was not the only decision that caused some surprise on Good Friday. The return of club captain David Buchanan for his first start in almost three months came out of the blue as he started at left wing-back in place of Joe Bunney.

“He’s still the skipper,” added Hasselbaink. “I brought him back because we are at home and we wanted the fans behind us. We know that he is one of the favourites among fans and we also needed experience for this match.

I brought him back because we are at home and we wanted the fans behind us. We know that he is one of the favourites among fans and we also needed experience for this match.

“We needed everybody behind us and him wanting to show me that I was wrong and that he should have been in the side earlier. He did well and most importantly I wanted his experience and his knowhow on the pitch for this match.”