Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook has warned his in-form team they will face a tough test against a rejuvenated Cobblers side at the DW Stadium on Tuesday night (ko 7.45pm).
A look at the league table suggests a home banker in this Sky Bet League One showdown, with the Cobblers down in 17th and the Latics knowing will go second with a three-point haul.
But Town have been inspired by the appointment of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink as manager, claiming seven points out of a possible nine in his three games in charge to date, and on Saturday they claimed their first away point of the season in a 2-2 draw at Southend United.
It’s a mini run that has seen the Cobblers quickly clamber off the bottom of the table, and Cook admits he is wary of the threat Hasselbaink’s team will pose.
Wigan go into the Town clash off the back of two 3-0 wins, the first at Charlton Athletic, the second at home to Bristol Rovers on Saturday, results which followed their only league defeat this season, 1-0 at Shrewsbury Town on September 9.
“After the defeat at Shrewsbury, to respond with two 3-0 victories is great credit to the players,” said Cook, who led Portsmouth to the league two title last season before quitting Fratton Park and and heading to Wigan.
“The most important thing now though is that you move on to the next game, and that is the Northampton game.
“We will prepare as well as we can and give your opponent the maximum respect, which is what Northampton deserve because they have a very strong team.
“Now they also have a manager in Jimmy, who has great experience in winning promotion with teams and managing in the Championship. We have got our hands full on Tuesday night.”
Hasselbaink took charge of the Cobblers two weeks ago following the sacking of Justin Edinburgh, who had overseen four defeats in the first four league games of the campaign.
The Dutchman has had an immediate impact, and Cook may fear that he and Wigan could be made to rue their decision to call off this fixture when it was originally scheduled for September 2, as they had three players away on international duty.
At that time Town were managerless, pointless and in a bit of dissarray, but now they have kick-started their season.
“I think the results say Jimmy has had an influence, but I wouldn’t be privvy to how Northampton have been playing in games, so I wouldn’t be that disrespectful to comment on stuff,” said Cook.
“Certainly, results-wise things have picked up, but I am sure Justin (Edinburgh) would have his reasons why the results were as they were. That’s Northampton’s business, and it’s certainly not mine.
“Jimmy has great experience, it’s a good game and we are looking forward to it.
“It’s a chance for us to catch up with out game in hand, and obviously after Tuesday the points will deem where we are in the league table.
“We will pick the team that we think will be correct to give us the best opportunity of taking three points off Northampton.”
Wigan are likely to feature two products of the Cobblers academy in their squad at the DW, with both Michael Jacobs and Ivan Toney set to feature.
Both players have been regulars in the Latics starting line-up so far this term, with both players scoring twice.
Wigan also have former £4m Manchester United man Nick Powell in their ranks, and Northern Ireland international Will Grigg, who scored his first club goal in almost a year in the weekend win over Rovers.
The Cobblers are without the suspended Matt Crooks, as well as the injured John-Joe O’Toole, Shaun McWilliams, Sam Hoskins, Sam Foley and Aaron Phillips.
George Smith, who missed the trip to Southend with a groin problem, is expected to be fit.