O’Toole and co set to feature for Manchester United visit

John-Joe O'Toole is in line to start on Friday
John-Joe O'Toole is in line to start on Friday

A much-changed Cobblers side will take on Manchester United in Friday’s final pre-season friendly with manager Dean Austin planning to give other players the chance to play 90 minutes and stake their claim ahead of the new season.

A somewhat depleted squad of just 16 players was named for Town’s friendly against Barnet on Tuesday evening but it was all part of the plan as Austin continues to focus on ensuring his players reach the optimal level of fitness prior to their first competitive game of the season next weekend.

Ash Taylor, Shaun McWwilliams, David Buchanan, Matt Crooks, Sam Hoskins and Andy Williams were among those to play their first full 90 minutes of pre-season at the PTS Academy Stadium on Tuesday, but it’ll be the turn of others on Friday.

Those expected to start against what will be a youthful United side include John-Joe O’Toole, Leon Barnett, Kevin van Veen and Daniel Powell, plus potentially new signing Junior Morais.

“It’ll be a different team on Friday,” confirmed Austin. “You didn’t see Leon Barnett on Tuesday, you didn’t see the likes of Sam Foley, JJ, Bowditch, Powelly and others, so expect to see those boys on Friday.

“It’s very nice from my point of view to have that strength in depth and I know I’ve got these boys who are all ready to go.”

Cobblers now are back in the country having spent six days in Spain last week when they used the facilities at the Real Club de Golf Campoamor complex in Alicante to step up their pre-season preparations.

They also played a fourth friendly during the trip when three second-half goals secured a 3-1 victory over Hull City U23s.

Austin added: “It was a great exercise for us because it allowed us to be together and bond and build the team spirit.

“It also enabled to be able to train early in the morning and then late at night so the players could work at a greater intensity because there’s more recovery time so it was an exceptional exercise for us over the six days.”