Cobblers right-back Brendon Moloney faces a race against time to be fit for the Sky Bet League Two opener at Bristol Rovers on Saturday afternoon.
Moloney sustained a knee injury during the closing stages of last season and it was decided that he would need an operation after the first pre-season outing, against Sileby Rangers in July.
It irked Cobblers boss Chris Wilder, who says the club were given some bad advice about how to handle the 26 year-old’s injury following the initial incident against Burton Albion.
Moloney’s progress is on track having completed four weeks of rehab, but is it not yet known whether he will return in time for the league curtain-raiser this weekend.
“It could be a case of the game coming just too soon, but we haven’t given up hope yet,” he said. “I really hope to be involved but we’ll just have to see day by day how the recovery progresses.
“We’ll step up my routine and I’m sure I won’t be too far away from a return now.
“You don’t want to rush coming back after an injury as that could have a longer term effect and you’ll then have another setback, so we’ll take it day by day and see how it develops.”
Moloney has flourished at Sixfields in his 23 appearances to date. Having initially signed on a loan deal from Yeovil in January, he soon put pen to paper on a permanent deal.
Josh Lelan was signed this summer from Derby County as cover the for ex-Nottingham Forest defender, and he looks set to get the nod if Moloney is absent.
Moloney has praised the form of his rival for the right-back slot after citing the importance of having strong competition for places throughout the Cobblers squad this season.
“There’s good competition for places here,” Moloney said. “He (Lelan) has come in and done well while I’ve been out injured and he’s a good young player.
“You need that in the squad and need the competition all over the pitch to have a successful side, and I think we have that now.
“All the boys that have signed will add great quality and depth to the team. It’s up to us to play well each week and keep our place in the side.”