Rob Page has told his players to ‘play with smiles on their faces’ as the Cobblers target another EFL Cup upset when Premier League West Bromwich Albion come to Sixfields on Tuesday night (ko 7.45pm).
The Baggies are expected to field a strong side against Northampton, with manager Tony Pulis stating he didn’t have much choice due to the lack of numbers in his first team squad.
In games like this you want to be involved, and you want to go and have a go at the best players, players that are plying their trade in the Premier League, and see where you are atCobblers boss Rob Page
The likes of former Cobblers loan man Saido Berahino, Salomon Rondon, Darren Fletcher, James Morrison and Ben Foster are set to play, and although Town manager Page accepts it is going to be a real test for his players, he wants them to go into the game with a positive attitude.
“We have to respect the opposition we are up against,” said Page, who steered his team to a 2-1 extra-time win at Championship Barnsley in round one.
“We are confident going into the game that we feel we can get a result, as it is pointless approaching any game with negative thoughts of ‘let’s just turn up’.
“There is no chance of that. I have a group of lads there that want to go and compete against a good Premier League team, and it is a fantastic opportunity for them, and I have sauid that to the players.
“In games like this you want to be involved, and you want to go and have a go at the best players, players that are plying their trade in the Premier League, and see where you are at.
“It is an opportunity for our players to go out and give a good account of themselves, and hopefully get a positive result.
“We are the underdogs as they are the Premier League team coming to us.
“You have seen upsets before in the cup, just look at the first round of this competition where plenty of Championship teams went out, and it happens every year.
“So there’s no reason why there can’t be an upset, and the pressure is off us.
“We are just going to go out there to play with smiles on our faces and will try and take the opportunity with both hands.”
Page is a huge admirer of west Brom boss and fellow Welshman Pulis, and he is looking forward to pitting his wits against him on the sidelines on Tuesday, just as he did 12 months ago when manager of Port Vale.
“Tony is an exceptional manager. Ironically, this time last season when I was at Port Vale we played West Brom away in this cup, having beaten Burnley in the first round,” said the Cobblers boss.
“We played against them and took them to penalties before losing, and I think Tony is a fantastic manager.
“Every club he has been at, he has had a positive impact on them. He has never had a club relegated, and to have that record speaks for itself - and as he’s a fellow Welshman as well, I have a bit more respect for him!
“But seriously, he is a great manager and you don’t have the record he has got by not putting the work in and bringing the right players into the club.
“He knows how he wants to play, and he brings the players in to suit that.”
And he added: “I think you know what you are going to get from a Tony Pulis team.
“I can’t really read too much into what happened in the (Port Vale) game last season, but you can look at the match against Everton at the weekend, and you can look at previous games to that.
“But even then, there is a big enough squad at West Brom for him to make changes and still be able to compete.
“We know that whoever they put out on Tuesday, they are going to be a strong opposition and one that we are going to have to be at our best to get anything out of the game.”