The decision to omit Jordan Turnbull from Tuesday’s starting line-up against Newport County was purely based on tactical reasons, according to manager Keith Curle.
Turnbull, frozen out under previous boss Dean Austin, had been a revelation for the Cobblers from the moment he came into the team in Curle’s second game at Swindon Town.
Jordan has done very well under me. He had been out in the cold for a while, came back in and gave a very good account of himself.
With fellow centre-backs Ash Taylor and Leon Barnett unavailable for selection, Turnbull became a regular in Town’s defence and his form, alongside the excellent Aaron Pierre, played a key role in their improvement at the back.
But he was taken off at half-time of last week’s draw against Exeter City and then lasted less than an hour versus Grimsby Town on Saturday before remaining an unused substitute at Rodney Parade in midweek.
Cobblers lost the game 3-1, and asked why he decided to go with Taylor and Pierre instead of Turnbull, Curle explained: “I wanted to go with a back four.
“Jordan has done very well under me. He had been out in the cold for a while, came back in and gave a very good account of himself.
“He didn’t get picked on Tuesday purely because of the formation I wanted to play, but I have a lot of respect, a lot of time and a lot of regard for Jordan.”
Curle appeared to have fixed Northampton’s defensive troubles up until their visit to Lincoln City in the FA Cup, but since then, they’ve conceded 10 goals in four games.
On why that might be the case, Curle said: “It’s about decision-making, focus, concentration and aggression. They’re all key elements that you need defensively and it’s not just about a back two, a back three, a back four or a back five.
“It’s a defensive mentality as a team. People talk about the introduction of different personnel coming back into the squad but that’s going to happen.
“Throughout the season, you’ll get players on top of their game and you’ll get certain players who have dips in form and there’ll be injuries and suspensions as well.
“You get all those things but we have to have the format in place in terms of how we want to defend. There’s key principles that need to be in place individually and that spreads collectively.”