Spending time on the sidelines is hardly the way a footballer wants to spend his Saturdays, but Carl Baker has been watching his team-mates from a different angle during his spell out.
Popping just up the road to Sixfields, Baker mixed with the travelling MK Dons fans during the dramatic 2-2 draw in the FA Cup second round.
His rapport with the fans has been strong since he first signed for the club in September 2014. Quickly becoming a fans favourite, even changing his Twitter handle to include the club, Baker has always been popular among the Dons faithful. Receiving messages of support throughout his rehabilitation process, Baker said his time in the stands at Northampton gave him appreciation of what the fans have to go through to support him and his team-mates, week-in, week-out.
“I enjoyed being with the fans at Northampton,” the 33-year-old said. “That probably spurred me on even more to get fit again. I wanted to come back straight away after that.
“You really appreciate what the fans have to go through. Normally, you’re a bit guarded and protected from all that - you arrive, you change, you’re back down the tunnel, and drive home.
“If I was a manager, I’d make the injured players go and sit in with the away fans, or do the radio because you get the buzz and feel for it again. And you can appreciate the way they see the game too.
“They’ve been really great to me. It makes you want to score and win games for them, and pay them back. They’ve all been really patient with me.
“When you get the messages on Twitter, or when people see you in the street and tell you how much they want to see you back, who isn’t going to like hearing that? It’s little things like that that help drive you on, it’s what you go through the hard sessions for.”
And while not in with the fans, Baker has joined those robbing a living in the press box, adding his voice to the radio waves.
While keeping an eye on his language, the midfielder admitted it’s much easier to comment on the game than he thought, with the view alone giving a new perspective on the game.
“I’ve enjoyed being sat up higher in the press box, listening to what the other commentators have to say. Sitting up high, you see the tactics and shape and how hard everyone is working.
“It’s really interesting. It’s so much easier from up there! It’s natural, but when you’re at pitch level, you see the guy pressing you, the tackle coming in, the manager shouting behind you, the fans all around you - it’s a lot different from up in the press box!”
READ PART ONE HERE: Eight weeks of frustration for Carl Baker
IN PART THREE: Carl Baker on his drive to be back, and the battle against the drop