McDonald a doubt for Carlisle trip as he struggles to shake off illness

STRUGGLING WITH ILLNESS - Cobblers central defender Rod McDonald

STRUGGLING WITH ILLNESS - Cobblers central defender Rod McDonald

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Central defender Rod McDonald is a doubt for the Cobblers’ trip to Carlisle United on Saturday as he struggles to shake off a bout of illness.

McDonald first felt ill ahead of the Sky Bet League Two match at Hartlepool United last Saturday, but he started the game only to be taken off after just 27 minutes of the 0-0 draw.

The 23-year-old then missed Tuesday night’s 1-1 Sixfields draw with AFC Wimbledon, and manager Chris Wilder has admitted McDonald is still not 100 per cent right.

“We are going to check Rod this morning (Thursday),” said the Cobblers boss.

“Rod has been in bed for the past three or four days, and has really not been very well, and the way we play, we have to make sure he is right and ready to go.

“I think he will do some light work today, and we will check on him tomorrow to see if we take him up the road or not.

“But we are hoping he will be okay, because he has done well for us.”

McDonald’s illness has opened the door for Southend loan man Luke Prosser to make his first appearances for the Cobblers, replacing him at Victoria Park last weekend before making his full debut in midweek.

Prosser came through a testing home debut against a powerful Wimbledon side, but Wilder admits he will be happy to have a tough selection decision to make at the weekend if McDonald is better.

“It was a tough one for Pross and Zander (Diamond) on Tuesday, a tough examination, and possible Pross could have had an easier one,” said the Cobblers boss.

“I know people will make comparisons because Rod has done great, but that was a tough old game for Pross.

“I thought he did really well on Saturday and we have kept the ball out of the net at Hartlepool, and then it has took a bit of a wonder strike to beat us on Tuesday.

“So I have no problems with that, and if Rodders is fit and healthy we will have a decision to make on Friday.”

The Cobblers didn’t pick up any fresh injuries on Tuesday night, with Wilder saying: “We have not got any bangs and bruises, which is good because it was a fiercely contested, physical game.

“Both teams were fully committed, and we are happy we have come through it unscathed.”

Alfie Potter is back in full training and is available for selection, while Wilder says striker and skipper Marc Richards is making ‘fanastic progress’ as he recovers from the Achilles strain he suffered in the 1-0 win at Oxford United last month.

The Cobblers boss admits Richards is itching to get back into action, but that he and the medical staff have to keep him on a tight leash to stop him returning too early.

Asked when Richards may be back in contention for a first team recall, Wilder joked: “If it was down to Marc, it might be Carlisle away on Saturday!

“We have to pull him back a little bit, but he is looking good and we are talking about him maybe getting back on the training pitch in 10 days’ time.

“Maybe he will be available for the Stevenage game, but I will have to check on that and we have to be careful with him.

“We have to look after him, but everybody knows what he is like and if it was up to him he would on the coach up the road tomorrow afternoon.”