Boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink says Rochdale are going to pose his new-look Cobblers team a ‘serious challenge’ when they meet in the big Sky Bet League One relegation battle at Sixfields on Saturday (ko 3pm).
Town go into the game in excellent form, having won three and drawn one of their past four games, and buoyed by their 1-1 draw at title-chasing Blackburn Rovers last weekend.
I have seen the game against Millwall and they were unlucky, they should have won, so in that aspect they are not playing like a team that is at the bottom of the leagueCobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
Hasselbaink’s squad has also been bolstered even further this week with the signings of strikers Kevin van Veen and Boris Mathis, bringing his tally of January transfer window signings to nine players in all.
Spirits are certainly high at Sixfields, but the fact remains they are still only one place above the relegation zone, and although they are three points clear of the drop zone, two of the four teams below them have games in hand and can overhaul Town if they win them.
Rochdale are one of those teams, with Keith Hill’s men currently second bottom, and although they trail Town by a hefty 11 points they have played four games less and will see this weekend’s clash as a real chance to breathe life into their bid for safety.
Their league form has been pretty awful, with the Spotland side being without a league win since November, and not having won on the road all season.
But they have shown what they are capable of in the FA Cup, drawing 2-2 at Championship outfit Millwall in their fourth round clash last weekend, having won a Doncaster Rovers in tound three.
Hasselbaink is certainly taking nothing for granted, and will be stressing the threat Dale are capable of posing to his players.
“Rochdale are going to pose a very hard challenge, a very serious challenge,” said the Cobblers boss.
“They are a good footballing team, who play really good football and put teams under pressure.
“I have seen the game against Millwall and they were unlucky, they should have won, so in that aspect they are not playing like a team that is at the bottom of the league.
“We need to respect that, and we know it is going to be a very hard game, and we are going to be tested.”
A win for the Cobblers will put them out of reach of Dale and bottom club Bury, and although Hasselbaink knows every game is equally as important, he does accept this clash carries a little extra bite.
“It is important to try to win whatever match you are playing, but this is important because they are around us in the league table,” said the Town boss.
“We are going to do our utmost, we are playing at home, and we will try to work together with the crowd to try to make it a difficult place for the opposition to come.
“We are going to try and play well, and hopefully we can get a good result.”
On the injury front, former Rochdale left-back Joe Bunney has been nursing a dead leg but should be okay to face his old team-mates, while the only other absentees are Aaron Pierre and Aaron Phillips.
New signings van Veen and Mathis are available for selection, but one of the club’s six loanees will miss out as only five are allowed to be named in the match day squad.