Cobblers boss Chris Wilder is delighted to have winger Ricky Holmes back in the first-team fold at Sixfields, but says the player will have to wait for a starting role.
Holmes played his first football since August 15 on Saturday when he played the final half-hour of the stunning 3-2 FA Cup comeback win over Northwich Victoria.
The former Portsmouth man had an instant impact on his return, lifting the team and supporters as they trailed the non-Leaguers 2-0, and then setting up Dominic Calvert-Lewin with Town’s dramatic winner with a pinpoint cross.
Holmes is desperate now to make up for the time he has lost due to the back spasm that led to him missing almost four months of the season, but Wilder says he will be taking care of one of his prize assets.
“Ricky is not ready to start a game,” said the Cobblers boss, talking ahead of Saturday’s Sky Bet League Two trip to Luton Town.
“We looked at him and wanted to get him on the pitch in the Yeovil game for 10 or 15 minutes, but we couldn’t because of the state of the game.
“On Saturday it was right for him to come on with half-an-hour to go, and we have to manage Ricky in the right way, and we have to manage his long-term health.
“Us looking after him in that way will give him the best opportunity of seeing the season out, because we have always talked about how he is a really important player for us.
“His impact on Saturday wasn’t surprising for the supporters, and wasn’t surprising for me, and he gave us the boost we needed at that time.
“He won’t start on Saturday, but Ricky being in the 18 is a really big boost for us.
“He is back to his old cheeky self, and the way he played, by working back and then driving the game forward.
“He then showed that great bit of quality with the ball over for Dominic’s great header to win us the game at the death, and it is something we have really missed and he really adds to our squad.”