Cobblers captain Marc Richards admitted he was ‘devastated’ not to be involved in Saturday’s promotion-clinching draw with Bristol Rovers, but that didn’t take the gloss off his side’s ‘fantastic’ success.
Sitting top of the club’s scoring charts with 18 goals, Richards has more than played his part in Northampton’s promotion charge this season despite his recent injury problems.
The 33-year-old will now miss the rest of the season after deciding to undergo an operation on his troublesome Achilles in an attempt to get back fit for the start of pre-season.
Richards did initially return to action at Mansfield Town on Easter Monday following a month on the sidelines, but an out-of-sorts performance in both that game and the following one against Notts County indicated he was still having problems.
Richards said: “We thought with the situation the club was in before Saturday’s game, we felt we were in a strong enough position for me to not be involved any more and to go ahead and try and resolve this problem that I’ve got with my Achilles.
“I’ve played the last two games but I feel like I’m not helping the team at all and I’ve struggled to get around the pitch and produce the sort of performances which are required at this level.
“I spoke the physio, the rehab team and the gaffer and this was the best decision for us to try and resolve this problem with an operation.
“I’d have wanted to play on but the way I felt after the last two games that I’ve played, there was no way I could have played in Saturday’s game.
“It was a massive game and Bristol Rovers are a good team and I think we were unfortunate not to get a result but for me to put in a performance like the lads up top did would have been very difficult just simply because I couldn’t get around the pitch.”
It’s unfortunate timing for the prolific striker who deserved the chance to celebrate promotion on the pitch having had a significant influence throughout the season, both on and off the field.
But his injury didn’t prevent him from celebrating at full-time on Saturday and paying tribute to a ‘tremendous’ squad effort which saw the Cobblers became the first team in England to win promotion this season.
He added: “It’s bit of a downer for myself to not be involved but I’m delighted for the lads who’ve played and the lads who’ve been involved right the way through the season.
“We’ve had people come in on loan and help steer us over the line and it’s been a fantastic year for us and it’s thoroughly deserved.
“At the start of the season we were having doubts on whether the club would even exist at this point of the season.
“Obviously Kelvin (Thomas) has come in and taken control and steadied the ship.
“The gaffer’s build a tremendous squad too, not just a team, and it’s a squad of players who’ve all helped get us promotion.”
Richards says his team-mates won’t be content with just promotion, though, with four points from the five remaining games needed to secure the League Two title.
He added: “I’m devastated not to be involved and for my season to be over but I’ll be willing the lads on to go and win the league now.
“To be champions is the ultimate achievement and we won’t be celebrating too much but we’ll have a good drink and then get back to working ways.
“We’re not satisfied with just getting promoted, we want to win the league.
“I want to be in and around the club and the boys as much as possible because there’s nothing better.
“The squad we’ve got at the moment is fantastic and it’s a great achievement to come through this season and everyone would agree we’ve been the best team this season.”