Boss Neilson hopes Milton Keynes’ ‘quality’ will overcome ‘physical and direct’ Cobblers

Milton Keynes Dons manager Robbie Neilson
Milton Keynes Dons manager Robbie Neilson

Milton Keynes Dons boss Robbie Neilson has warned his team they face a physical battle against the Cobblers on Saturday, but believes his team’s ‘quality’ will ensure they claim a victory.

Town travel to Stadium MK for new boss Justin Edinburgh’s first game in charge, sitting three places and two points above their hosts in the Sky Bet League One table, although MK do have two games in hand.

It’s going to be a tough game, a physical game, and we need to make sure we match them physically all over the pitch. If we can do that, then hopefully our quality can come through and we can get the three points

Milton Keynes Dons boss Robbie Neilson

Neilson is still settling into life in England, having switched from Hearts in the Scottish Premiership to take over at Milton Keynes at the beginning of December, and his record since taking over from Karl Robinson has been patchy.

MK have won two, drawn two and lost four of Neilson’s eight games in charge, and they find themselves playing catch-up as they haven’t played a league game since January 2 thanks to their involvement in the FA Cup third round, where they lost 2-0 at Brighton, and last weekend’s postponement at Port Vale.

With their game called off, Neilson watched the Cobblers’ 2-1 defeat to Scunthorpe on Saturday instead, and said: “We went to watch them on Saturday, and they’ve got two good strikers and good delivery from wide.

“It’s going to be a tough game, a physical game, and we need to make sure we match them physically all over the pitch. If we can do that, then hopefully our quality can come through and we can get the three points.

“Northampton are strong, physical and direct with two really good strikers for this level in Alex Revell and Marc Richards.

“They are strong, and our defence is going to need to be top notch mentally and physically, because they are going to get hits from elbows, headers, and if we can stand up to that, then with the footballing ability we have got we will win the game.

“We’ll have a lot of possession but we have to make the most of it and not get caught on the counter.

“Local derbies create a little bit more spice and hopefully we’ll get a few more fans in here and create a good atmosphere.”

One of the four defeats Neilson has suffered at the MK helm came at the hands of Edinburgh, who oversaw Gillingham’s 1-0 league one win against them at the Priestfield on December 17, but the Scotsman doesn’t envisage the new Town boss having had time to get any significant new ideas across to his new players this week.

“It will be interesting to see what Justin does,” said Neilson.

“It’s a different group of players to what he had at Gillingham, and I expect Northampton to be pretty similar to last week.

“I don’t think he will go in and change a vast amount with the squad they’ve got, although he has brought in a couple of players.”

MK have also brought in a couple of players this week, with Neilson going back to his former club Hearts to sign forward Robbie Muirhead, as well as taking teenage midfielder Harvey Barnes from Leicester City.