Skipper Richards says injuries are no excuse for poor Cobblers form

Marc Richards battles for possession during the Cobblers' 2-0 defeat at Portsmouth on Saturday
Marc Richards battles for possession during the Cobblers' 2-0 defeat at Portsmouth on Saturday

Cobblers skipper Marc Richards insists the club’s persistent injury problems are no excuse for the team currently underperforming this season.

Town were knocked out of the Checkatrade Trophy at the weekend when they lost 2-0 against Portsmouth at Fratton Park, which took their current poor run to five matches without a win or a goal.

We’re just not finding the level of consistency we need at the moment. There are injuries here, there and everywhere, but that’s no excuse, there is still plenty in the squad for us to go and win games

Cobblers skipper Marc Richards

Four of those five matches have ended in defeat, while the other was a 0-0 draw with bottom-of-the-table Bury, and Richards admits that form is not good enough.

Manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has been hit by a host of injury issues since he took over from Justin Edinburgh, and it is continuing as at Fratton Park he was again denied the services of key players John-Joe O’Toole (ankle), Daniel Powell (hamstring) and Shaun McWilliams (groin).

Hasselbaink was able to welcome back attacker Sam Hoskins who had been missing for four weeks with a hamstring injury, which was a bonus, but it was only his ninth appearance of the campaign.

Talisman O’Toole has only played eight times in total, while Powell has now been out of action for a month, which is not an ideal situation, but Richards says it is no excuse.

“We’re just not finding the level of consistency we need at the moment,” said the Town skipper.

“There are injuries here, there and everywhere, but that’s no excuse, there is still plenty in the squad for us to go and win games.

“But at the moment, we are either not doing the creating side of it, or we’re not getting on the end of it.

“That is something for us to work on in training, which is something we do on a regular basis anyway.”

The loss at Fratton Park means Sky Bet League One is the only competition left for the Cobblers this season, and they are currently sitting in the relegation zone.

And Richards says the squad’s sights are set on rectifying that situation.

“We are, and always have been, fully focused on the league,” said the striker.

“The cup competitions are what they are, and if you can go on a good run in a cup then you can take the confidence from that into the league.

“But we are now out of the cups, we can fully focus on the league which is our bread and butter, and hopefully we can start climbing the table as soon as possible.”

Reflecting on the defeat to Pompey, Richards felt it was a bit of an opportunity missed for the Cobblers, but the team’s current deficiencies at both ends of the pitch proved pivotal.

“The lads are disappointed,” said the 35-year-old. “Once you get through the group stages (of the Checkatrade Trophy), you take a look at it and think there is something at the end of it.

“This competition is what it is, but we put a strong team out and went to Portsmouth hoping to take a win.

“But we’ve not created enough chances, and we’ve not been ruthless enough at the back.

“There wasn’t too much in the game to be honest, until Portsmouth took a foothold in the second half, and controlled it then. But I thought we were in the game until they scored.

“Goals change games, and they got one in the first half, but if we had scored early in the second half then we are the ones on the front foot and can take the game to them.”