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On Monday 2nd October, Northampton Town dipped into the free transfer market to sign former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Lewis McGugan on a free transfer.
Ever since he took over from Justin Edinburgh as manager, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has stated his wish to bring in new bodies and to utilise the out-of-contract market. This is exactly what has happened, as Lewis McGugan has been handed a short-term contract until January, with the option of an extension should he prove his fitness and his worth.
The signing of McGugan represents a coup for Northampton, as earlier in his career McGugan was extremely highly rated, making a name for himself at Nottingham Forest. After breaking into the first team at the City Ground during Forest’s spell in League One, McGugan scored 9 goals in 54 games from midfield, a number of these from long range and one of these winning goal of the season as Forest were promoted to the Championship.
Following the promotion, McGugan remained a mainstay in midfield and his best season for Forest came in the 2010-11 season, where he scored 13 goals. It was this form which saw him linked with many Premier League clubs, however nothing materialised and after two more seasons for Forest he was sold to Watford.
The goal scoring form continued at Vicarage Road, as McGugan scored 11 goals in his first season for the club. He then fell out of favour at Watford, and was subsequently loaned and sold to Sheffield Wednesday.
However, McGugan never really felt at home at Hillsborough, and left Sheffield Wednesday in the summer after falling completely out of favour under Carlos Carvahal, and for one reason or another wasn’t picked up by another club and remained a free agent, meaning he was free to sign out of the transfer window.
Following his arrival at Northampton, McGugan stated he wants to put a ‘really, really bad time’ behind him and is desperate to put his once promising career back on track. His last appearance prior to signing for Northampton was in May 2016, so McGugan states is ‘a case of easing his way back into football’.
McGugan was thrown immediately into the starting line-up and made his debut for Northampton on Tuesday 3rd October, in the Checkatrade Trophy tie away at Peterborough United. During this game, McGugan showed glimpses of his class, forcing a decent save out of the goalkeeper from a long-range strike and playing a few good passes in midfield, however he played things relatively safe, as expected on his first appearance for nearly 18 months.
McGugan stated that Hasselbaink was a major factor in his decision to sign for Northampton, as the pair worked together at Nottingham Forest where was a coach. Hasselbaink knows all about McGugan, and as a result he will hope that McGugan will provide the creative spark necessary in the Cobblers midfield, as Matt Crooks and John-Joe O’Toole remain side-lined, and the Cobblers are currently undergoing a goal draught, albeit an own goal was scored by Peterborough during the penalty win on Tuesday night.
McGugan looks set to start again on his league and home debut on Saturday 7th October, as Northampton look to get back on track against Bristol Rovers.