Cobblers defenders Evan Horwood and Brendan Moloney have taken a big step towards regaining full fitness after playing the full 90 minutes of a practice match.
The in-house friendly took place at Moulton College on Tuesday, and both could now come into contention for a squad place for the weekend trip to Cambridge United.
Neither have featured for the first team this season having undergone summer operations, although Horwood has been on the bench for three recent matches without getting on to the field.
“We had a practise match between ourselves, and Evan and Brendan got through the 90 minutes, which is really good news for them,” said boss Chris Wilder.
“Zander Diamond also played a part in that, and other players that we thought we needed to bring up to scratch have got the minutes in. That was a good exercise for us.”
Forward Alfie Potter has also returned to training.
The former Oxford United man hasn’t played since suffering a dead leg in the 1-1 draw with Leyton Orient last month, but Wilder said: “He had a little bit of fluid drained from his leg on Monday, and he started training on Tuesday.
“We have been told that he could be involved in training (with the first team) on Thursday, which is another boost with the other players coming back as well.”
There is still no date set for a return for back injury victim Ricky Holmes, while Rod McDonald is also still sidelined with his knee problem.