Cobblers boss Chris Wilder believes Notts County’s underperforming stars will be desperate to put on a show against promotion-chasing Cobblers at Sixfields on Saturday (ko 3pm).
It has been a season to forget at Meadow Lane, with the Magpies on their third manager of the campaign following the recent appointment of former Swindon Town and Peterborough United boss Mark Cooper.
Cooper took over from the sacked Jamie Fullarton just over a week ago, who himself only replaced Ricardo Moniz in January.
County are without a win since February 16 and are in a mess, but they are in no danger of getting relegated and a look at their squad list suggests they are in a false position in 19th in league two.
Their player roster includes internationals Alan Smith and Roy Carroll, and the likes of Jon Stead and former Cobblers loanee Izale McLeod, and Wilder feels they are going to be a proper test for his players on Saturday.
“We have to make sure we meet the challenge and respect Mark Cooper going into a new club,” said the Cobblers boss.
“We talk about the strength of the division, and the quality clubs that are below us, and there are some big, big clubs that have struggled this season.
“I played at Notts County for more than a year and I know what size the club is, and what a decent club it is.
“They have signed some very good players, they are a big club at this level with a big playing staff and expectations are very high.
“They have not got anywhere near that this season, they have changed their manager twice, but I am sure Mark will want to turn things around as soon as possible and finish their season on a high.
“Everybody has their own interests at their own football club, and Notts County will be looking to get a good result against us, to finish their season off on a high and to go into next season on the front foot.
“What that does for you is quite important, and it is the same for us.
“If we do get over the line (and get promoted) on Saturday, or a week on Saturday, we still want to make sure we finish the season on a high and go into next season on the front foot.
“The professionals at this level, at any level, want to win whatever.
“You look at their group and they have Mike Edwards who has won things at tis level, they have Alan Smith who has played at the highest level and won things, the manager has done well recently and at his last club he got Swindon ino the play-off final.
“They have Jon Stead who has played at the highest level, and they won’t want to come here on Saturday and wants us waltzing round them and for the game to be a gimme.
“We have total respect for the opposition, and we have to first and foremost make sure that we play well and get the result, and if the other results come in then it is obviously turns from a good day into a fantastic day.”
The refurbished east stand will be in use for the first time at Sixfields on Saturday, which means there will be upwards of 1,500 extra Cobblers fans in the stadium as their team chase the win that could seal promotion.
But far from being fazed by such at atmosphere, Wilder feels it will lift the County players, just as the full houses at Sixfields has lifted Town’s rivals in recent weeks.
“The players Notts County have in their group will rise to a big occasion, which it is going to be on Saturday,” said Wilder.
“It’ll be a full house, they are playing the team that is in pole position to win the league and their players will want to turn us over, like they have all wanted to, like the Cambridge players wanted to, the Newport players wanted to, like the Mansfield players wanted to.
“You have seen the reaction of all those teams, the Cambridge manager and players, the Newport team and how they went about the game, the Mansfield players and manager and how they went about things on Monday.
“They are desperate to turn us over and to end our unbeaten run.
“But on the other side of the coin is the fact we have a tremendous group of players that are so proud of what they have done this season, and they want to keep that going and keep it intact.
“You stick that all in the pot and hopefully it will all add up to a fantasic occasion on Saturday.”