Cobblers boss Chris Wilder believes Alex Nicholls’ playing return will ‘do him the world of good’.
Nicholls played for the first time since breaking his leg in October 2012 in the Cobblers’ pre-season friendly at Sileby Rangers on Saturday, going on to score an 11-minute hat-trick in Town’s 9-0 win.
It was a big day for the player, who was given a rousing reception from the Cobblers fans when he was brought on in the 52nd minute, and again when he scored his first goal on 75 minutes.
And Wilder was delighted for the former Walsall man.
“You could see by the reaction when Alex scored, not just from the supporters, but also from the players that have been close to him over the past 18 months, what it means,” said the Cobblers boss.
“They are absolutely delighted for Alex, and hopefully that will have done him the world of good.”
The Cobblers were a class above their UCL Premier Division opposition, but the game still had a physical edge, and Nicholls didn’t shy away from that side of things at all.
Indeed, in scoring his second goal he slid in with the Sileby goalkeeper and a defender to get the decisive touch with his right foot.
“There were a couple of tackles on Alex as well, which we were delighted with,” said Wilder.
“Al, and a few of the other boys were involved in contact, which was good, that’s what we want.”
As well as Nicholls’ return, Kelvin Langmead got through his first 90 minutes since April 2013.
Langmead missed virtually all of last season with a knee problem, but he looked strong on Saturday, and went the distance.
“We only had Kelvin down to play 60 minutes,” admitted Wilder. “But he wanted to stay on and that was good.
“So we can take a lot of good things out of this game.
“There were a lot of positives for us. There was good play by everybody, good application and attitude.
“The players have worked hard, they kept the hammer down for the entire game, and we were ruthless in front of goal.
“We wanted to score, and keep scoring, and we did that.
“We will now check on the boys on Monday, but I am sure everybody has come through the game okay and they are looking forward to the trip to Scotland.”
The only two first team squad members to miss out on action on Saturday, aside from the injured Lewis Hornby, were Zander Diamond and Ricky Ravenhill.
And Wilder said: “Zander played 90 minutes against Derby County’s first team on Thursday, so he had a stiff examination there and was rested.
“Ricky got a whack in the ribs in that game. He wanted to play at Sileby, but there was no point risking him.
“He’ll be okay for the trip to Scotland, and so will Zander.”
The match was played on a perfect playing surface at Fernie Fields, and Wilder added: “I have to say thanks to our hosts, who have been tremendous, and the facilities here are first class.
“The game was played in a great spirit, and obviously our fitness, with us being full-time, kicked in, especially in the second half.
“But we had a really good day, and we wish Sileby all the best for the forthcoming season.”