Goalkeeper Nicholls says he is open to Northampton return next season

SAFE HANDS - Cobblers goalkeeper Lee NichollsSAFE HANDS - Cobblers goalkeeper Lee Nicholls
SAFE HANDS - Cobblers goalkeeper Lee Nicholls
Goalkeeper Lee Nicholls has said he would like to return to the Cobblers next season if he is given the opportunity.

The Wigan Athletic youngster will line up between the sticks for Town in their npower League Two play-off final against Bradford City at Wembley tomorrow.

It is the final game of an extremely successful loan spell at Sixfields for the 20-year-old, but he admits he would be happy to return next season, if that is what his parent club, and the Cobblers, wanted.

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Asked if he would like to play for Northampton again next season, the Liverpudlian said: “I haven’t really thought about it to be honest.

“But I think I would come back if I had the chance to.”

The Cobblers’ chances of having Nicholls back in the fold next season would obviously be enhanced if they could win promotion to npower League One.

But it may be that the Latics, who have been relegated from the Barclays Premier League, may not now be willing to loan him out again, and that Nicholls could even be a first-team squad member at the DW Stadium next season.

Nicholls has certainly done his chances of that scenario happening no harm with his performances for the Cobblers over the past 10 months.

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He has been one of the team’s best and most consistent performers all season, making very few mistakes, and then he earned himself true hero status among the Cobblers faithful with his penalty save in the play-off semi-final win at Cheltenham.

Nicholls has been pleased with how the season has gone, but also knows there are areas he can improve.

“I can’t say it’s been a perfect season, or that I couldn’t have asked for anything different,” said Nicholls.

“I have looked at the season and there has been times when I could have done better, and I don’t think I will improve as a goalkeeper if I don’t say that, or if I don’t criticise myself.”

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And he obviously has no regrets about making the loan move to Northampton.

“As soon as I spoke to Aidy Boothroyd and heard that he wanted me, then I wanted to come,” said Nicholls.

“All I wanted to do this season was play games, and Aidy gave me that chance in the initial three-month loan period I had here.

“I showed what I could do, and Aidy then took me until the end of the season, and I couldn’t have asked for more.”

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Nicholls will be one of a number of players strutting their stuff at Wembley for the first time tomorrow.

It is still a frustration to many at Sixfields that they let their automatic promotion chance slip in the closing weeks of the campaign, but Nicholls is now looking forward to getting the job done second time around.

“Through the play-off is probably the best way to go up,” said the goalkeeper.

“But a few people would rather not go through it if you’re not going to win it.

“To not win it would hurt that bit more, knowing that you have worked so hard all season and it then gets taken away from you.

“But we are in confident mood, and will give it our best shot.”