As the Cobblers prepare for their first pre-season friendly of the summer, boss Dean Austin has declared himself happy with his team’s pitch-perfect programme over the next couple of weeks.
Before jetting off to Spain for an Alicante training camp on July 14, Town have organised a run of four matches against varying levels of non-League opposition, starting with what has become the traditional curtain-raiser at UCL side Sileby Rangers on Tuesday night (ko 7.45m).
The pitch at Fernie Fields is recognised as being one of the best around, and Austin says the standard of playing surface for these games is a crucial factor when organising them, as he needs to get the maximum benefit from each outing.
The trip to Sileby is followed by Saturday’s visit to National League South side St Albans, and then there are midweek trips to National League North outfit Brackley Town (July 10) and another National League South side Chelmsford Cty (July 11).
All are recognised as having excellent pitches, and Austin said that, along with the fact all are within fairly easy reach of Northampton, was behind the scheduling.
“I want us to be able to get a decent enough test from these games, but also being able to play on a decent surface, hence why we are going to Brackley as well, because our groundsman looks after their pitch now,” said Austin.
“We wanted to not be travelling too far away, and to try and keep the boys reasonably local as we are going to have enough travelling through the course of the season.
“We want to be able to get the combination right of work to playing, because on the days of those games we will be training in the morning.
“The boys will be coming in and doing a training session, then having lunch and a break, before playing.”
All of the Cobblers squad are set to get a run-out at Fernie Fields on Tuesday, aside from the odd one or two who may have picked up any sort of strain from the opening week of pre-season training.
There was a time when pre-season would have been all about running, running and running, with the players perhaps not kicking a ball for the first couple of weeks as they were put through their paces, but Austin works differently.
“We got straight into working with the balls,” said the Cobblers boss.
“I told the boys at the end of the season that, if I was going to stay, then they need to get their leg work in before they come back, because we are not going to spend hours and hours running round the pitches.
“I told them it was down to them to invest the time in themselves to get as fit as possible and ready for pre-season, because you know what’s coming.
“Whether you are running round a field, or whether you are playing with a football, you are going to be stiff.
“It’s about which way you choose to do it, and I choose to do all my stuff with the ball, and the boys all look in good shape.”
Tuesday’s game clashes with England’s crunch World Cup clash with Colombia, but the last-16 match, which kicks off at 7pm, is being shown the clubhouse bar and supporters are welcome to watch it there.
Admission for the match at Sileby is £6 for adults and £3 concessions.