Duke of Sixfields
Northampton keeper Matt Duke discusses surprise struggles and playing for as long as possible.
Last Updated: 07/03/14 4:31pm
The 2013/14 campaign is now entering the final straight, with divisions beginning to take shape.
Here at Sky Sports, we will look to take you to the very heart of the Sky Bet Football League over the coming months, with our Spotlight features intended to give you a greater insight into the clubs and players that keep us on the edge of our seats.
We hope to bring you the views and thoughts of a representative from each of the 72 teams over the course of the season, with those involved asked to give their take on the division they compete in, the club that pays their wages and those we should all be keeping an eye on.
Northampton's Matt Duke is next into the hot-seat, with the Cobblers goalkeeper taking time out to discuss surprise struggles and playing for as long as possible with Chris Burton.
Sum up the mood in the camp at the moment, I take it there is plenty of positivity there?
Yeah. The manager has come in and we've picked up the results. Results then breed confidence, but there is quite a good mood in the camp at the moment. We work hard as a group and that's what we'll keep on doing.
You have hit a bit of form, three wins in five, and you needed to find a run like that didn't you?
If it wasn't for these three wins, things would be looking really difficult. But we've given ourselves a great chance. The manager has brought players in and they have helped to give the whole place a lift.
January could be key couldn't it, the club rolled the dice and will be hoping to see that gamble pay off?
I think that's what you see sometimes. It was intended to freshen things up, and it did. At the moment it's looking like a good decision. Hopefully we can pull together as a group and keep us in the league now.
Have the news boys settled in well and offered something different?
Yeah. Sometimes it's just a matter of freshening things up and the new lads have come in and settled in straight away, which is always important. They are putting in the performances on the field as well. It all seems to have clicked and that's been a massive bonus for us. It all settled down straight away.
The struggles this season must have come as something of a surprise, especially to you having been involved in a play-off final against Northampton last season?
That's it. When I signed here in the summer you were thinking we'll be pushing for the play-offs and maybe automatic. It just didn't work. It's just one of those things. We haven't had the rub of the green and the team didn't gel together and before you know it you are in a relegation fight. It was a big surprise.
I suppose it just goes to show how competitive League Two is doesn't it, and how quickly things can change?
That's it. It's definitely the case in this league that everybody can beat everybody. I know you get that in most leagues, but it rarely shapes up like this one. There isn't much between the top and the bottom.
It's a crazy league isn't it, you're sat 23rd but are only nine points off the top half?
If you can put a run together, manage to win three or four games on the bounce, you can climb way up the league. It's amazing how tight it is.
That plays into your hands doesn't it - the more teams that are within touching distance, the more can be dragged into a basement battle?
Exactly. You set yourself out to look at the next team above you, but you look above you now and there are two or three sides on the same points. If you can get above them, suddenly you jump three or four places. It's better in a lot of ways because all of the teams will have to play each other and take points off each other. There should be a really interesting finish to the season.
You've mentioned the impact Chris Wilder has made since coming in, he was up for the Manager of the Month award and deserves to be recognised doesn't he after turning things around?
Yeah. The results speak for themselves don't they? At the moment, since he's come in, there has been a massive boost. It's no surprise that he was up for the Manager of the Month award.
And as players are you eager to repay the faith he showed in you, because he took a risk in leaving Oxford to take the job didn't he?
There was a bit of surprise when he left there, but he obviously thought he could do a job here. We obviously need to make sure that we stay in the league and offer a platform. We need to get into pre-season and then look to kick on from there.
On a personal level, are you happy enough with how things have gone - you've been an ever-present in the league?
I'm happy with how my season has gone form-wise. Obviously there have been a couple of blips, but over a long season there is always going to be. I'm happy with how I've played and the decision I made to come here. I'm getting towards the end of my career now and I just want to play football, and that's what I came here to do.
You signed a two-year contract so obviously you have no plans to hang up your gloves any time soon, are you eager to play as long as possible?
I am. I would like to play until I'm 40. I signed for two years and then we'll assess it after those two years. Hopefully then I can get another contract somewhere else, or even at Northampton. I'm just enjoying playing football. When I hit 40 I probably won't be playing anymore so I have to enjoy it while I can.
Matt Duke was talking to Sky Sports on behalf of Sky Bet, the Title Sponsor of The Football League.
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