Brady wants better quality from inconsistent Cobblers as they go into crucial Easter fixtures

With just eight games remaining for the Cobblers to secure their Sky Bet League One survival, the two they play this Easter weekend are going to be crucial.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 12:16 pm
Cobblers boss Jon Brady
Cobblers boss Jon Brady

Town entertain mid-table Shrewsbury Town on Good Friday (ko 3pm) before travelling to leaders Hull City on Easter Monday, and boss Jon Brady knows his team have to pick up points from what is a testing double header.

But he is also aware that two games in the space of three days is going to be a further strain on what is becoming a stretched Cobblers squad.

Midfield pair Jack Sowerby and Mickel Miller as well as goalkeeper Steve Arnold are all missing through injury this weekend, and Brady knows the players he is relying on to try and get Town out of relegation trouble are being pushed to the limit.

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Other clubs with bigger squads have the luxury of being able to rotate their players more than Brady feels able to, but he says his team will again be giving everything they have to try and get two positive results this weekend, starting with Shrewsbury on Friday.

The Town boss was left frustrated last weekend after seeing his team struggle in the 1-0 defeat at relegation rivals AFC Wimbledon, just a matter of days after they had deservedly beaten promotion-chasing Oxford United at the PTS Academy Stadium.

But he feels that inconsistency is down to a lack of options in the Town squad, meaning he is unable to give certain players a breather and the rest they need after what has been a hectic three months of football.

"We always look at the opposition and how we can exploit them going forward, and how we can nullify any threats they may pose," said Brady.

"Each team is different, and we will treat Shrewsbury on their own, but again the focus is on us, and we need to be much better.

"The hardest thing as a manager is when the players produce a performance like they did against Oxford, and then you get the feeling 20 minutes into the next match they are not playing with that energy, that tempo that they needed to try and replicate.

"That was what we wanted to replicate on Saturday, and the way we played, but we didn't.

"Things are not always going to go your way, but we are limited in what we have got in terms of options, because of the injuries that we have in the squad.

"With Sowerby and Mickel Miller out, you look at our midfield and you haven't got much to replace in there to add sharpness.

"These players are having to play the same minutes, and we can't really rest many because we haven't got the biggest squad in the league.

"We are asking the players to keep that energy and tempo, game in, game out, and it is tough in a 46-game season, very tough, to keep that consistency level.

"But I believe the quality needs to be better."

And on the Easter weekend matches, Brady added: “These are really important fixtures.

“There is six points on offer over the Easter weekend and again we are going to be asking a lot of our players because we haven’t got the big squad that other teams have.

“We played Oxford and they are throwing four substitutes on, bringing on the cavalry of top quality players, and we have not got that opportunity to do that.

“That’s because our squad is not the biggest, and we have got to ask these guys to really put a shift in over these two games.

"It is going to be tough, but we are up for the challenge.”

Town remain outside the League One relegation zone, but only on goal difference, and two of the four sides beneath them in the table, Wimbledon and Rochdale, have two games in hand.

Wigan Athletic missed the chance to go above the Cobblers on Wednesday night when they were beaten 1-0 at Gillingham.