Wycombe Wanderers boss Gareth Ainsworth is relishing the challenge of taking on promotion-chasing Cobblers at Adams Park tomorrow.
And he believes the clash against Aidy Boothroyd’s side will show just how far his improving Chairboys team have come since he took the reins in the autumn.
“This is going to be tough,” said player-boss Ainsworth.
“Northampton are a tough side, they will create chances as they like to get the ball into the box.
“We know what’s coming because we had a really good battle there at Sixfields very early in my tenure.
“It was a cracking game and we created a lot of chances that day.
“But I think we will give them a good game. It is a different Wycombe now, there is a different spirit there.
“It is the same players, but I think we have grown as a team and grown as a club, but I am sure Northampton have as well.
“To be in the top six at this stage of the season is a very strong performance, the table doesn’t lie.”
Wycombe actually went bottom of the Football League following the 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Cobblers on November 17.
That was only Ainsworth’s second game as full-time manager following Gary Waddock’s sacking, but he has done an excellent job, with Wycombe now sitting 14th in npower League Two having picked up 49 points.
So what has been the secret to the Chairboys’ improvement?
“The players have been fantastic, from the 17-year-olds to the senior pros, all the players in the squad,” said Ainsworth.
“Everybody has been professional which is important, everybody has worked hard, and it has been great seeing them grow as players, playing to their strengths, and doing the right things.
“We are a better Wycombe than we were, and the game against Northampton will be a good test for us.”
Wycombe will go into tomorrow’s game against the Cobblers on a high, after they scored a last-gasp goal to seal a 2-2 draw with another high-flying team in Rotherham United on Tuesday night.
Ainsworth was delighted with his players’ performance in that game, but admits he is concerned about some of his squad’s energy levels.
“We were a bit tired at the end of the game on Tuesday night, “admitted the Wycombe boss.
“It was tiring, and we put everything into that game.
“The lads have had a couple of down days, and hopefully we can fire again against Northampton.”