43 appearances, 15 assists and three goals. One look at Nicky Adams’ stats for Northampton Town this season, and you could be forgiven for forgetting he was 33 years of age.
The Cobblers’ club captain spoke exclusively to the EFL ahead of Thursday night’s League Two Play-Off Semi-Final against Cheltenham Town, and after 43 appearances in all competitions already this season, he will no doubt be key to Keith Curle’s plans.
“We put ourselves in a really good position in the Play-Off places before the break,” he says.
“If the season had finished you never know what might have happened, but we’re in the Play-Offs now and we will give it our very best shot."
Following the postponement of football across the EFL in March due to coronavirus, League Two Play-Off clubs returned to training earlier this month, with the potential of three games to come - a place in League One the prize.
“The last couple of weeks we’ve been back in full contact training, which has been really good for us as footballers,” he explains. “It’s definitely good to be back involved and all the lads are buzzing to be back as well.
“The gaffer was excellent with us in terms of being ready to restart again. We’ve all had fitness plans because we hoped at some point we’d get to finish what we started, so we knew we had to be ready, or as ready as we could be.
"It’s a long season, a lot of us have played 30 or 40 games already, so the break was probably good in that respect but you soon want to get back to football once you’ve had time to recover. When you’ve played football for as long as I have, it’s what you live for.
"I love football and when you’ve had a good season and you’ve got a good dressing room like we have, there’s nothing better than being in and around the lads. It’s been a quick turnaround but we’re all fit and ready to go."
Adams played for the Cobblers’ in their 2015/16 title-winning campaign, and there were two reasons, he says, for his return to Sixfields this season.
“Two reasons really,” he answers when asked why he re-joined the club in August. "I had such an amazing time here when I played for Northampton before, we won the league and it’s great to be a part of the club’s history, so that was a big factor for me.
"But also the manager. I’ve worked with Keith Curle before and his sides play good football, I really respect him and I’ve got a good relationship with him. I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me.
"With those two things combined, coming back here was a no brainer for me.”
After 43 appearances, 15 assists and three goals, promotion would be the icing on the cake for what has been a near-perfect return to Sixfields for Adams.
“The club has had a bit of a tough time the last few years,” he continues.
"I wanted to come here and help turn things around, hopefully winning promotion in the process and we’ve put ourselves in a really good position to do that.
“We had a bit of a slow start to the season, but we were a new group of players and I think we just needed time. Once we started to click we put ourselves in a great position which was always our ambition at the start of the season.
“We’ve got a great togetherness here and a good set of people this season. The management, his staff and the players are all on the same page and I genuinely think we’ve got a really good group.
“Anyone who’s been promoted or been successful before will tell you that if you’ve got a good dressing room, that’s half the battle to doing well.
"We’ve got a group who give everything we have for each other on the pitch and that’s played a huge part in our season. Together with the ability we’ve got on the football pitch, is why we are where we are this season."
This will be the sixth time that Northampton have competed in the Play-Offs, five of which have come in the fourth their of English football. However, the Cobblers’ only promotion via this route came in the 1996/97 season when Ian Atkins guided them to a 1-0 win over now-Sky Bet Championship side Swansea City.
Standing in their way of a place at Wembley in the Final however is Cheltenham Town, who, prior to the break had won six of their last eight games, making them one of the most in-form sides across the EFL.
Points-per-game saw the Robins finish in fourth place, however, with no football being played since early March, Adams believes all form goes out the window when they take the field on Thursday night.
“I think Cheltenham will be favourites for our clash because they finished above us and rightly so,” he says.
“They were a tough team to beat this season but in a Play-Off game you just never know, all form goes out the window. We've got to be on our game, we can’t afford any slip ups and for our first game back we’ve really got to hit the ground running and get a result.
“Usually with the Play-Offs, the team that makes the late charge into the top seven is the favourite to go up, but we’re in a completely different situation now. I believe it's very much going to be down to who gets the tactics right on the day and who takes their chances."
Adams would like to repeat his success of 2015/16, and promotion is very much the aim.
“I’ve been at this club when it’s been promoted before so to do it again would be very special for me and mean a lot. I’m very close with the manager and I’d love to help him win promotion to get this club back to where it belongs.
“I strongly believe that Northampton Town is a League One club and now it’s up to us to get them back there.
“I’m really looking forward to it, I’ve got a lot of respect for the three other teams competing in the Play-Offs, so let the best team win!
You can watch Nicky Adams' full interview on YouTube below.
The Sky Bet League Two Play-Offs live on Sky Sports Football from 17:00 on Thursday or follow all the action via @SkyBetLeagueTwo on Twitter.