Northampton Town have had an impressive season so far after their promotion from League Two last season.
Jon Brady’s men sit in mid-table in England’s third division, however, find themselves still 12 points away from the playoff places. Therefore, it looks unlikely that the Sixfields will not be a League One stadium next season.
With the Cobblers’ future looking set for next term, the hierarchy at the club will need to begin to turn their attention to the players who have expiring contracts this summer. According to Transfermarkt, there are 11 players that Northampton could lose on free transfers following the conclusion of the season.
Bournemouth academy graduate Sherring joined the Cobblers in the summer of 2022 after spending the previous season on two separate loans, the first half of the season at Accrington Stanley and the second half at Cambridge United. The central defender became a key part of Brady’s side that clinched promotion from League Two last season, making 36 league appearances and contributing towards four goals.
His consistent form has continued this season, playing another 23 matches, grabbing three assists already. At 23 years old, Brady could see Sherring as a key part of the team’s future, and if that is the case, then a new contract would need to be discussed soon with his current deal set to expire at the end of June.
Scotsman Appere joined the Cobblers on a last-gasp deadline day during the January transfer window of 2022, arriving from Dundee United on a two-and-a-half-year deal. The striker joined the Scottish side as a 17-year-old in 1999 and made his professional debut off the bench in a 2-0 Irn Bru Cup first-round victory against then-Scottish League Two side Cowdenbeath. In total, he made 80 appearances during his time at Tannadice Park, scoring eight goals.
The 24-year-old has managed to improve his shooting record since his arrival at Sixfields. In his 89 appearances, Appere has managed to hit the back of the net on 16 occasions. Brady and the rest of the Northampton hierarchy will now need to decide whether they see a future for the once-highly-rated young forward at the club. With no contract extension clause reported, without a full new contract, the Fife-born man will be leaving on a free this summer.
The first home-grown at-club star on this list, McWilliams is Northampton-born and came through the academy. Aside from a development loan to Kings Lynn in the 2016/17 season, the midfielder has never played for another club. Making 213 total appearances, he has slowly become a club legend, being an integral part of the side that got promoted to the third tier last season.
This season, his value to the squad has been as consistent as previous years. Making 21 league appearances, and grabbing four goal contributions he has added to his already impressive stats for the club. However, with his contract set to expire upon the conclusion of this season, it remains to be seen whether McWilliams will need to spend his first transfer window looking elsewhere since the start of his career.
Central defender Odimayo joined the Cobblers on a two-year deal in the summer window of 2022, after he rejected a contract extension offer from his previous club Swindon Town. A graduate of the Reading Academy, the 24-year-old only made one professional appearance for the Royals, before making the switch from Berkshire to Wiltshire to join the Robins, subsequently making 76 appearances during his spell at the County Ground.
This season, Odimayo has already beaten his record from last term in regards to minutes played, showing his capability to be able to make the step up from League Two into League One. His reliability at the back has been evident throughout this year, and with Brady’s side looking ahead to potentially a second season in this division, that reliability and consistency may be something the club wish to keep around, especially considering the possibility of high-squad turnover this coming summer.
It is rare that in a list like this, a January signing from this season would be included, but that is the case with Gape after he joined the side on a short-term deal less than a week ago. The midfielder spent the first half of the season at Sutton United but chose to reject their offer of an extension in favour of making a move to the Sixfields. Before his time at the London club, the 29-year-old came through the academy system at Wycombe before making the loan switch to Wycombe Wanderers, before impressing enough to earn a permanent deal there.
Spending six seasons at Adams Park, he made 204 appearances for the club, before moving on last summer. This season, Sutton only used him in seven matches in all competitions. It remains to be seen whether the Cobblers choose to use the player more, and subsequently keep a hold of the former Saints man after the summer.
Goalkeeper Burge joined the club on a free transfer in the summer of 2022 following the expiration of his contract with Sunderland. The Black Cats had the Hereford-born man for three seasons, seeing him help the club secure promotion from League One. His 66 appearances at the Stadium of Light are eclipsed however by the number of matches he played for Coventry City, at 160, after coming through their academy.
This season, Burge’s starts have dropped, only making 14, and appearing as an unused substitute in a further two games, however, he has started the last three games. His one clean sheet in the league this season does potentially point at the 31-year-old not being able to perform at the levels he has once hit, potentially providing a shadow of doubt over whether the club would wish to extend his contract past the summer.
From one Coventry academy graduate to another, Willis has had a very similar career path to Burge. Not only did he come through the same youth setups as the goalkeeper, but he also moved from Coventry to Sunderland in the same transfer window back in 2019 and left Sunderland at the same time in 2022. Now reunited back at the Sixfields with his former shot-stopper, the central defender joined the Cobblers on a short-term deal in October following his release from Wycombe last summer.
That short-term deal was subsequently extended until the end of the season as the 29-year-old has made himself a key part of Jon Brady’s side, playing 18 matches so far this term. Whether the future is at Northampton or elsewhere following the expiration of this deal, the former Sunderland man is doing his career no harm this season.
This list has quickly turned to a “Coventry Academy, where are they now?” Haynes is the third successive graduate from their academy whose contract is running out this summer. The left-sided defender made his debut for the West Midlands outfit in a home draw against Brentford in League One back in 2013. Since then, he has spent time at Shrewsbury Town, Newport County and of course finally the Cobblers.
His time at the Sixfields has been a tale of two seasons. During the promotion campaign, the 28-year-old made 27 appearances. However, this term, the defender has only accumulated 48 minutes of league football. With Jon Brady clearly not having the former Cambridge loanee in his plans, it seems unlikely that his contract would be extended.
Defensive Midfielder Fox began his career at Cov… ok not this time, instead it was Burton Albion. Loan moves to Solihull Moors and Gateshead United followed, helping him push into the first team in the 2018/19 season. Following his release from the Pirelli in the summer of 2021, the Burton-born man joined promotion hopefuls Grimsby Town in the National League for a single season before then joining Northampton.
Last season, the 26-year-old played 22 league matches, scoring four and getting one assist. However, similarly to Haynes, Fox has failed to start a single match in the division this season. Once again, therefore, it would seem unlikely that a contract extension would be discussed in the lead up to the summer.
Striker Hylton began his career at Aldershot United, before joining Rotherham United in the summer of 2013. He would go on to have two separate loan spells during that first season, one at Bury and one at AFC Wimbledon. The veteran then joined Oxford United before moving east to Luton Town. Making 271 appearances during those two spells, he became an experienced EFL professional.
The 34-year-old has spent two seasons at his current club, however, failed to score a goal, an issue not faced thus yet in his career. Once again, Hylton has not started a single game in the league this season, therefore Brady will need to make a decision on how they proceed going forward as the club looks to remain sustainable in League One.
Midfielder Abimbola came through the academy to sign his first professional contract with the Cobblers in the summer of 2022. Developmental loans at Rushden and Diamonds, Aldershot and Saint Ives Town followed. The majority of the youngster’s game time at the Sixfields has come in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy.
This season, the 19-year-old has been a used substitute once in the league and started two cup games. Still being so young, the club will need to decide whether they let him go in pursuit of first-team football elsewhere, or whether they continue to see his development in their senior squad.
The list of players released at the end of the season threatens to be rather long, considering the amount of contracts that are reportedly concluding in the summer. However, there are very few names on this list who have been integral parts of the squad this year.
High squad turnover is always risky, but sometimes necessary, and it seems like that may be the case at this stage for the Cobblers. With ambitions potentially now turning higher than simply maintaining in League One and the opportunity to overachieve if or when a wage cap comes in, a slight rebuild whilst keeping the main core looks to come at the perfect time.