Justin Edinburgh is facing a couple of selection headaches ahead of the Cobblers trip to AFC Wimbledon on Saturday (ko 3pm).
The first is who to select at right-back following Aaron Phillips’ outstanding performance in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Charlton, and the second revolves around which one of the six loan players at the club will miss out at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
I think that, at times since I have been here, the competition hasn’t always been fierce enough, hasn’t been competitive enough. But certainly in that right-back position now we have a real three-way tug-of-war for one position, and that is brilliantCobblers boss Justin Edinburgh
Only five loanees are allowed to be named in any match day squad, and midfielder Hiram Boateng was the unlucky odd one out for the clash against the Addicks.
But it could be Edinburgh opts to leave somebody else out against the Dons, and the manager admits the situation is a source of great frustration.
“It is a difficult one, because it is something that at times is taken out of my hands,” said the Cobblers boss.
“I would rather them all be competing fairly, but unfortunately that isn’t the case because one does have to miss out, whatever happens.”
Edinburgh has been left with six loan players as, after he took over from Rob Page, he needed to strengthen the squad and was forced to take the loan route to bring in attacking options Luke Williams, Keshi Anderson and Michael Smith.
Page had already signed Lewin Nyatanga, Gregg Wylde and Boateng on loan deals, and Edinburgh admits he is just going to have to get on with it.
“It is a difficult one and a tricky scenario, but I will always do what I feel is right for the team, and for a specific game, and that will always be my approach to it,” said the Cobblers boss.
“There will always be opinions of that, is it right? Is it wrong?
“But I will always do what I feel is right for the team against the opposition we play.”
Boateng was the unlucky one against Charlton, but Edinburgh says that won’t always be the case.
“We did it to Gregg Wylde the other week when Luke Williams first came in, and it is a difficult decision I had to make, but that is what I am here to do.
“I don’t think the loan players accept it, and I wouldn’t want them to, but they do understand the situation I am in.”
The right-back conundrum is a more traditional selection issue, with Edinburgh simply finding himself spoilt for choice as he has to pick one from Phillips, Neal Eardley and the fit-again Brendan Moloney.
Eardley missed the win over Charlton as he was with his partner who have birth to their child on Saturday morning, and Phillips stepped in at the last minute and performed excellently, setting up both goals as well as defending strongly.
Eardley is available again this weekend, as is Moloney, who was on the bench last weekend having spent three months out with a knee injury and then played 60 minutes of the reserve team’s 1-0 midweek win over Luton Town.
Edinburgh admits he may have a ‘couple of sleepless’ nights as he mulls over who to select for the trip to south west London, but is delighted to have such a problem.
Indeed, it’s one he wants for every position in the team.
“I won’t hide behind it, they are the type of decisions I want because I don’t want the team to pick itself,” said Edinburgh.
“I do want it to pick itself on merit, but not through a lack of competition.
“I think that, at times since I have been here, the competition hasn’t always been fierce enough, hasn’t been competitive enough.
“But certainly in that right-back position now we have a real three-way tug-of-war for one position, and that is brilliant.
“It will only increase the quality of the performance of whoever is selected, because they know that is no easy ride.
“That is the type of competition we want throughout the team.”