Cobblers boss Keith Curle is relishing the visit of Premier League Sheffield United on Saturday and says he wants to see how his side cope with being ‘stretched to the maximum’ by high-quality opposition.
Town were swatted aside 4-0 by Championship side Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday evening but Curle was unfazed by the result and instead insisted he saw ‘lots of positives’ from his team.
It gets no easier on Saturday when Wednesday’s City rivals Sheffield United, under the guidance of Cobblers legend Chris Wilder, turn up at the PTS to continue their own preparations ahead of their Premier League campaign (ko 3pm).
Curle is excited by the challenge his side will face though, saying: “It’s excellent. We’re bringing Championship and Premier League clubs down here for the supporters to have a look at the divide between league two, the Championship and the Premier League.
“We’re extremely grateful to both clubs for coming down and putting on good performances. We want to see our players stretched to the maximum and exposed.”
Curle admits the Cobblers could have organised an easier friendly schedule but he believe that would defeat the point of pre-season.
“Sheffield Wednesday have good players, physically, tactically and mentally, and we were stretched and tested on Tuesday,” he added.
“But that’s exactly what pre-season games are for and you could say a lot of players would have walked off the pitch happy that they’re not playing against that quality week in, week out.
“But that’s part of our development. We want to strive to improve so we’ll look back through the game and see some of their possession, their passages of play and their movement because it’s excellent for us to learn from.
“As a team and a squad, we were tested and that’s what this pre-season was designed for. Obviously we could go and play teams from lower leagues and build up momentum and build up confidence.
“We had the first game against Sileby and won 7-0 but my mindset is that I want to see us exposed and I want to see us stretched and I want to see how we cope with that and how we adjust on the pitch through our decision-making.”