Taylor absence offers chance for players to ‘stake their claim’ for a Cobblers place

FIT AGAIN - Harry Beautyman is back in training and available for the weekend date with Millwall
FIT AGAIN - Harry Beautyman is back in training and available for the weekend date with Millwall
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Rob Page is challenging the players in his squad to use Matt Taylor’s three-match ban as the chance ‘to stake their claim’ for a place in the Cobblers team.

Taylor misses the next three Sky Bet League One fixtures following his dismissal in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Scunthorpe United.

Page decided against appealing the decision by referee Darren Handley, and has reluctantly accepted the punishment for one of the Cobblers’ key players so far this season.

But what Taylor’s ban does mean is that there a place in the team now up for grabs, and the likes of Harry Beautyman, Joel Byrom, Alfie Potter and Sam Hoskins will be aiming to catch the eye in training ahead of Saturday’s home date with Millwall.

“We have three big games coming up without Matty, who has been brilliant for us, but it gives an opportunity for somebody else in the squad now to step up,” said Page.

“They can now stake their claim for a place in the team.

“It is unfortunate we have lost Matty, but with the work we did through the summer we are confident now that we have a group of players that can compete.

“We have always had that competition for places, and this now gives somebody else an opportunity to step in.”

Taylor’s sending off was a source of great frustration for Page, but he is already focusing on the good things to come out of the trip to Glanford Park.

“Looking back at the chances created at Scunthorpe, we had 19 shots, 15 of them on target and we could have scored four goals against the league leaders, and could have won the game with 10 men,” he said.

“There are far too many positives there to dwell on the negative, which is the sending off.

“We we are focusing on this week is building on the chances we created against a very good team, and they are very good, they are top for a reason, and we have to build on it and take it into Saturday against Millwall.”

One of the players who will be vying to replace Taylor in the Cobblers team is Beautyman, who missed the weekend trip with a knee problem he picked up in last weekend’s Checkatrade Trophy defeat at Coventry City.

But Page revealed the former Peterborough United man is now fully fit again, and that the squad returned from Scunthorpe injury free.

“There were no problems with injuries from Saturday,” said the Cobblers boss.

“Harry Beautyman obviously missed out on the weekend, but he is training again.

“We could have risked him on Saturday, but would then have run the risk of putting him out for a longer term and we didn’t want to do that.

“So we have done the right thing and kept him back, and he is fit to train.”