O’Donnell says smiles have been restored at Sixfields thanks to boss Austin

HAPPY LADS - the Cobblers players celebrate the second goal against Plymouth last weekend
HAPPY LADS - the Cobblers players celebrate the second goal against Plymouth last weekend

Richard O’Donnell says Dean Austin’s approach to match preparation has been a breath of fresh air, and the Cobblers players now go to work ‘with a smile on their faces’.

Town face a crunch Sky Bet League One relegation battle at Walsall on Saturday (ko 3pm), knowing they need a win to maintain their hopes of avoiding relegation.

Richard O'Donnell

Richard O'Donnell

It is a high pressure situation, but O’Donnell insists the spirit in the Sixfields camp is relaxed, and that is all down to the influence of Austin, who is in charge of first team affairs until the end of the season following Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s sacking earlier this month.

The Cobblers have won their past two games, having gone the previous 10 without a single victory, and O’Donnell says a big reason for that upturn in form is Austin’s positivity, and his belief in the players at his disposal.

“I saw a quote from the manager this week where he said that attack is the best form of defence, and that sums him up,” said the 29-year-old.

“We work on us, what we can do to affect the other team, and I think that has shown in the past couple of games where we have been very threatening going forward.

Everyone is enjoying themselves at the minute, everybody is enjoying coming into training, we are working really hard, but witha smile on our faces, and I think that has showed in the past two performances. Things are working really well, and we now have to take that kind of performance into this weekend

Cobblers goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell

“We backed that up on Saturday with a clean sheet (in the win over Plymouth), so defensively we were spot on as well.

“Everyone is enjoying themselves at the minute, everybody is enjoying coming into training, we are working really hard, but witha smile on our faces, and I think that has showed in the past two performances.

“Things are working really well, and we now have to take that kind of performance into this weekend now.”

Austin does concentrate on what the Cobblers can do, but O’Donnell adds that the opposition is still studied, just not too much.

“You do have to have a little bit of that as well (studying the opposition), so we do watch videos and stuff, but generally the manager is very positive about what we are going to do, and how we are going to go about beating the other team.

“The lads have really responded well to that, and it shows.”

O’Donnell signed for the Cobblers from Rotherham United in the January transfer window, and not for one minute when he made that switch did he think he would be going into the final two games of the season sitting in the bottom four of league one.

It’s an understatement to say the player is disappointed with how results have gone, but he insists he is enjoying his time at Sixfields, and that he still believes the club will get the results it needs to stay up.

“I am enjoying myself, and I love playing every week which is the main thing for me,” said O’Donnell, who returns to play one of his former clubs at Walsall this weekend.

“Obviously, results haven’t been great but I just love playing football, so if you put me on a pitch and put my gloves on then I am happy.

“I feel I am contributing to the team, and we just want to stay in this league, which is the main focus now.”

And he added: “I can remember saying when I signed that I didn’t expect this group, before we signed nine players in January, to be where they were. So, obviously I definitely didn’t expect us to be where we are now, but we are where we are.

“The thing is we are showing the right qualities to get out of it, we have two games left and we have to go and give it everything.

“The fans have backed us and I know they will back us on Saturday.

“We are taking 2,000 with us, and that is going to be unbelievable for us. It will give us a boost and hopefully we can go and do the job.”