Scunthorpe United assistant manager Neil McDonald says the Iron are ready to snuff out the threat of striker Kevin van Veen if he makes a quick return to Glanford Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Dutchman switched to Sixfields only last month when he signed for the Cobblers for an undisclosed fee, and now a matter of weeks later, he could be taking on his former team-mates at his old stomping ground when Town take on the Iron in Sky Bet League One (ko 3pm).
Certainly the back four and the midfield in front know all about what Kevin can do, and we’ll do all we can to make sure he has a tough gameScunthorpe United assistant manager Neil McDonald
The 26-year-old is a doubt for the game due to a dead leg he suffered in his full Town debut at AFC Wimbledon last Saturday, but if he does make it, McDonald insists his old Scunthorpe pals will be well prepared to ensure van Veen, who spent three-and-a-half years at the Iron, does minimal damage.
“They have a certain player who is coming back who is going to try and haunt us,” said McDonald, who was doing pre-match media duties instead of manager Graham Alexander.
“We dealt with that well recently when Fleetwood’s centre forward (Paddy Madden) didn’t score against us on his first game against us, and hopefully Northampton’s centre forward won’t score either.
“We know of Kev’s qualities and we know his strengths.
“Certainly the back four and the midfield in front know all about what Kevin can do, and we’ll do all we can to make sure he has a tough game.”
Prior to his departure for Sixfields, van Veen was the Iron’s main source of goals, netting six in his final 11 games for the club, but Scunthorpe have found little touble finding the net since his departure.
They have netted six times in their past three games, with former Cobblers striker Ivan Toney and prolific midfielder Josh Morris both netting twice, while the much-travelled Lee Novak has also hit the target.
“I think our attacking play has been excellent,” said McDonald. “We try and figure what our opponents’ weaknesses are and exploit what we have – we certainly have done that well.
“We are creating chances and scoring good goals, if we can carry and doing that whilst being clinical then we will certainly win a lot more games than not.”
The Cobblers travel to Lincolnshire off the back of a deeply disappointing 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Gillingham on Tuesday night, but they are unbeaten on the road in 2018.
They have won at Bradford City and AFC Wimbledon and also drawn 1-1 at Blackburn Rovers since the turn of the year, and McDonald is anticipating a testing afternoon for a Scunthorpe side without a win in their past three home games.
They have lost to Rotherham and Gillingham and drawn with Doncaster Rovers since a New Year’s Day win over Bury, but their record against the Cobblers at home is excellent, with Town never having won at Glanford Park.
Indeed, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s team lost 1-0 there earlier this season in an FA Cup replay following a 0-0 draw at Sixfields, while Scunthorpe were also 3-0 victors in the league match at Sixfields.
Those results, says McDonald, will give the Iron confidence going into Saturday’s game, the fourth meeting between the teams this season.
“Northampton are up and down in their performances really,” said McDonald. “Since Jimmy has taken over they went through a great period and then they struggled to pick up points.
“But we know they’re a good, well-organised team with some fantastic individual quality players.
“We can certainly take confidence from our last three games against them as we know we can break them down and score goals.
“We will be well prepared for them and the task ahead this Saturday.
“We’re looking forward to putting our practice on the training ground on to a match day and hoping to get the three points.”