COBBLERS: Boost as Davis returns for reserves

Liam Davis will play his first football since breaking his foot in pre-season when he features for the Cobblers reserves at Fulham this afternoon.

The flying left-winger, who has endured an injury-ravaged 18 months at Sixfields since making the switch from Coventry City, is badly needed in the first team with manager Ian Sampson down to just one naturally left-sided outfield player. That man – Andy Holt – played less than an hour at Bury on Saturday as he struggled with the effects of a recent knee injury.

Sampson admits that in a perfect world Davis would be allowed a few weeks of stamina-building and a handful of reserve-team outings before being pressed back into first-team duty.

That is unlikely to happen because Davis not only brings pace and a goalscoring ability from midfield to the side but also a balance, and with him on one flank and Ben Marshall down the other, the side's creativity would greatly increase.

"Hopefully Liam will start running this week and we'll look at him coming back in about two weeks or so," said Sampson. "We're missing a bit of balance at the moment – we've only got one left-footer in the squad as it stands so it will be good to get him back involved.

"It depends on how much I need him as to how quickly we get him in the team.

"I was always rushed back, I know that. But we'll ask Liam if he's okay. Ideally we'd like to get a few reserve-team games into him."

Paul Rodgers has filled in at left-back in the past two games, while Luke Guttridge has done on a job on the left of midfield.

Both those two are right-footed, and there is a definite imbalance at Sixfields at the moment, with the southpaws greatly outnumbered.

Sampson would like to sign at least one new player to address that, but any transfer activity will be limited to loan signings.

"We're looking at bringing someone in to give us a bit of balance," he said. "I thought Paul Rodgers played pretty well in the second half on Saturday but we are short of left-sided players.

"It's not just left-backs and left-wingers we need, we haven't actually got any left-footed central midfielders or centre-backs so it's something we need to look at."

Also expected to feature in the reserve-team game, which takes place behind closed doors, will be the likes of Abdul Osman, Gary Mulligan and Sebastian Harris, who all need to keep their match sharpness ticking over.