Chris Wilder is preparing his Cobblers squad for the second part of what he always felt would be a ‘major week’ in their bid to reach the Sky Bet League Two play-offs.
Town play host to the second struggling side in four days when Carlisle United visit Sixfields on Tuesday night, and after a 1-0 win over Tranmere Rovers at the weekend they go into that game with a degree of confidence.
This was always going to be a major week for us in terms of setting ourselves up for the back end of the seasonCobblers boss Chris Wilder
It is mathematically possible for Northampton to move into the top seven in the midweek round of fixtures, but they would need to win and for Plymouth and Stevenage to lose and for Newport to fail to beat Luton Town.
Such a sequence of events seems unlikely, but three more points would prime the team for an end-of-season run at the play-offs.
“Even teams who who haven’t got something to play for at this time of the season will want to beat you,” said Wilder.
“We know we’ll have to be as good as we have been throughout this recent run; we were on Saturday but in the second half we perhaps needed to be a bit better on the counter-attack.
“This was always going to be a major week for us in terms of setting ourselves up for the back end of the season.
“Carlisle deserved to beat us when we played them earlier in the season and a lot of the top teams play each other in this round of fixtures, so it’s a good opportunity for us to make up some ground.”
Wilder will be without Ricky Holmes for Tuesday’s game as the winger has been sent for a scan on a knee injury suffered in Saturday’s win over Carlisle.
“The injury situation earlier in the season was ridiculous but it has settled down a lot more in the past couple of months,” said the manager.
“Losing Ricky will open up an opportunity for someone else to come into the side and we saw that on Saturday with James Gray coming into the starting line-up.
“He’ll get a goal for us sooner or later and the lads who have been out of the side have been fantastic in their attitude in terms of waiting for an opportunity.”
There is good news for Wilder on the playing front for Tuesday night, though, with Joel Byrom available for selection after serving a two-game suspension.
The manager must decide between restoring Byrom to central midfield and keeping Darren Carter, who was played the past two games, in the starting line-up.
“It’s a difficult call for me,” he said.
“But you have to make those as a manager and it’s something we’ll have to have a good think about.”