Cobblers boss Rob Page admits he is wary of the wounded Lions ahead of Millwall’s visit to Sixfields in Sky Bet League One on Saturday.
Beaten play-off finalists in May when they lost out to Barnsley at Wembley, the south Londoners got the current season off to a good start, securing three wins in their opening five games to be among the early frontrunners.
But since winning 3-1 at Chesterfield on August 27, it has all gone awry for them, with Millwall playing more like pussy cats than Lions as they have endured a run of six league games without a win, and four defeats on the bounce.
They stopped the rot to some degree in the Checkatrade Trophy last midweek, as they saw off Gillingham 2-1, but neither manager Neil Harris nor anybody associated with the club will be happy to see them languishing in 19th place in league one.
Millwall, who were without a game last weekend due to international call-ups, are only above the relegation zone on goal difference.
Page admits he is surprised to see Millwall struggling for form as they are, but he is convinced they are going to turn it round sooner rather than later - and he has warned his players they are going to have to be at their best to ensure it doesn’t happen this weekend.
“Everybody has a bad spell in this division, everybody does,” said Page, who saw his Port Vale side beaten twice by the Lions last season, 2-0 at Vale Park and 3-1 at the New Den.
“Millwall’s record isn’t great at this present time, but that can turn at any time and we have to make sure that it’s not on Saturday.
“I know the manager, I know how he goes about his work, and their form will be hurting him.
“He will be working ever so hard to put it right, and so will the players that he has got.
“They were outstanding in the division last season, and they will get there again, so we have to be on our guard and make sure we go and impose ourselves on them on Saturday, and focus on what we can do.”
The Cobblers go into Saturday’s game off the back of a hard-fought 1-1 draw at league one leaders Scunthorpe last weekend, despite playing the final 30 minutes with just 10 men following Matt Taylor’s sending off.
Page was delighted with the result and performance against a team he says ‘are top for a reason’, and he feels this weekend’s clash with Millwall, regardless of their league position, is another chance for his team to test themselves against one of the division’s stronger squads.
“Millwall are a big club in this division who did well last season, so it will be a great guage for us,” said the Town boss.
“But, as always, we know that, irrespective of who we play against, if we perform to our level consistently we are a match for anybody.”
The Cobblers will be without Taylor who serves the first match of his three-game ban, but Harry Beautyman is fit again after injury, and central defender Gaby Zakuani is also available after suspension, and his international duty with the Democratic Republic of Congo.