Hasselbaink praises debutants and gives positive update on Powell injury

CULT HERO: Hildeberto Pereira didn't need long to show Sixfields what he's capable of. Pictures: Sharon Lucey
CULT HERO: Hildeberto Pereira didn't need long to show Sixfields what he's capable of. Pictures: Sharon Lucey

New signings Hildeberto Pereira and Shay Facey have plenty more to offer the Cobblers this season, says manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, after both impressed on Saturday when making their debuts for the club against Southend United.

Signed last week, Facey was steady and composed at right-back, enough to earn him the man of the match award, while Pereira showed flashes of his potential during an all-action second-half cameo as he struck the crossbar within moments of coming on before teeing up Alex Revell for Town’s third goal.

Northampton eventually won the game 3-1 and with more matches under their belts – they played just 10 competitive senior games between them across the whole of 2017 – Hasselbaink is confident they will only improve and help give his team a different dimension.

“I’m pleased with him,” he said on the Portuguese winger. “He’s somebody who’s still getting fitter and getting used to the English game again but we like his directness and we like that he’s got pace.

“On the turnovers and on the counter-attack it is very important to have that pace and he sees a pass and we needed some fresh faces here. With him coming in, it gives people a lift.”

On Facey, Hasselbaink added: “He’s been training for a while with us on purpose because we’ve known for quite a long time that we were going to take him.

“He trained with us for the whole of December when he got to knew the group and the players and understanding how we play and we always knew that, in the last 10 minutes, it would be difficult for him physically because he’s so explosive.

“He got cramp and he needs matches and hopefully we can improve him and make him better.’

In addition to the positive performances of Facey and Pereira, striker Chris Long also had one of his best games for the club as his energy and movement up front caused constant problems for Southend’s back four.

It was the Burnley loanee who won the crucial penalty just after half-time and that came at a key time as it allowed Matt Grimes to score from 12 yards and restore Town’s lead, and from there they never looked back.

He’s somebody who’s still getting fitter and getting used to the English game again but we like his directness and we like that he’s got pace.

“He’s a player who makes life difficult for defences,” said Hasselbaink on the 22-year-old striker. “He works very hard and we want him to work very hard for 90 minutes, 96 minutes.

“In the first-half, he didn’t do enough, but in the second-half he led the line from the front and he’s got a wicked shot on him.

“At times he tries to overdo it but he’s all about goals. He was unhappy at full-time. He was happy with the win but he’s frustrated he didn’t get a goal and that’s what we want from him.”

Defender George Smith and winger Daniel Powell were late withdrawals from Saturday’s squad after picking up injuries and Hasselbaink gave an update on the pair at full-time.

“George twisted his ankle in training on Friday,” he explained. “It’s not bad but it was a little bit too sore to play.

“Daniel has a stiff hip flex. He’s coming back from injury and played on Monday for the first time and it was a little bit too much for him but I expect him back next weekend.”