Cobblers boss Rob Page is urging his players to relish their second test against Sky Bet Championship opposition in the space of eight days when Wolverhampton Wanderers visit Sixfields on Tuesday night (ko 7.30pm).
Northampton play their penultimate pre-season friendly before the Sky Bet League Two season opener against Fleetwood Town on August 6, with Kenny Jackett’s men coming to town.
The Cobblers turned in an encouraging performance a week ago when they drew 1-1 with Queens Park Rangers, and Page is expecting his players to improve their performance levels against another Championship outfit, particularly as an attacking force.
“The Wolves game will be a good test for us again, like it was against Queens Park Rangers,” said Page.
“I know Kenny Jackett from my time at Watford, so it will be great to catch up with him and welcome his team to the football club.
“We know we will be in for a tough test, so we’re looking forward to it.
“As a footballer you have to enjoy occasions like this when you are playing against better players in a team that is from a division higher, and to go out and have a go against a bigger football club.
“We have to use it as a tool to help us get to where we want to be come the Fleetwood game.
“It will be another fitness exercise, another way to play against a well-organised and hard working, quality team, and another test for us.”
And he added: “I thought defensively as a team we were excellent against QPR.
“When we defend, we don’t just defend as a back five with the four defenders and the keeper, we defend as a unit.
“That is what I ask of my players, and it is not about the centre forwards getting the glory when we win, we win as a team and we lose as a team.
“We defend as a unit and attack as a unit, and being hyper-critical of the lads the other night, although I thought defensively they were outstanding, with the ball I thought we could have done better with it.
“So that is the improvement I’ll be looking for now come the Wolverhampton Wanderers game.”
Page also believes that playing against such a big club as Wolves will be a help for his players as they prepare for a season that will see some big guns heading for Sixfields.
“There are some big clubs in league one this season, and it is a tough division,” said the Welshman.
“You look at the size of Bolton Wanderers, Sheffield United are still in there, and there’s Charlton and others, so there are going to be some real tests.
“It is good to have the likes of Queens Park Rangers and Wolves come to us so we can have a go against them.”
The Cobblers still have a batch of five or six players struggling with niggles and won’t be risked tonight, and Page has confirmed that trialists will be used.
Also wearing the Town colours for the first time will be new signing Harry Beautyman, and Page is excited at the prospect.
“Harry has bags of energy,” said Page, who signed the player for an undisclosed fee from Peterborough United last Thursday.
“I have had a team of mine play against him, and he can play right-back, he can play anywhere in midfield, in a two or a three, he can play off a front man, and he has an eye for goal.
“He has so much energy and legs, and he will be keen to impress against Wolves and I am looking foward to watching him play.”
Wolves come to Sixfields boosted by the completion of the £30million takeover of the club by Fosun International.
They travelled to the Cobblers’ league one rivals Port Vale on Saturday, and drew 0-0.