Ricky Holmes is set to make only his second appearance of pre-season when the Cobblers travel to Sheffield FC on Friday night (ko 7.30pm).
Northampton wrap up their pre-season preparations at the world’s oldest football club, and Holmes will be hoping to prove his fitness ahead of the Sky Bet League Two kick-off at Bristol Rovers on August 8.
Holmes underwent an Achilles operation in the summer, and has been taking part in training, but to date his only appearance was the opening 45 minutes in the 5-2 win at Worthing on July 7.
“Ricky has been doing ballwork, but he just gets to the stage where he gets a little bit of a reaction,” revealed manager Chris Wilder.
“It is something we have to manage more than anything.
“We have been told it’s not a serious situation, but we have to manage this period as he is itching to be involved.”
Wilder is anticipating Holmes will play at least 25 minutes in south Yorkshire, but the game comes too early for the squad’s two other injured players Brendan Moloney and Evan Horwood.
“I think Evan and Brendan will travel with the group, but won’t take part in the game, but fingers crossed that Ricky will,” said Wilder.
“Ricky is a big player for us, but that has been offset by the form of Alfie Potter, Lawson D’Ath and Nicky Adams, and obviously we have Chris Hackett floating about there as well.
“It’s not the be all and end all if Ricky doesn’t start the first game of the season, but I think every manager will tell you that you always want your squad to be healthy and fit.
“Unfortunately, we have had a bit of an issue with Ricky, but we have done quite well in pre-season, we don’t have a load of injuries.
“Evan and Brendan are progressing well, and we are hoping Brendan and Ricky will be fit for the Bristol Rovers game, but whether they will have had enough minutes under their belt, well that’s a decision I will have to make.
“They will be up for selection, but Ricky has played at Worthing and will hopefully play a few minutes at Sheffield, while Brendan played half a game at Sileby, which really isn’t enough going into a new season. But they are coming on nicely.”
Sheffield-born Wilder is relishing the Friday night trip to his home town, and is anticipating a good evening.
“I think we are all looking forward now to Bristol Rovers and the start of our league campaign,” said the Cobblers boss.
“Sheffield is a good game for me, locally, obviously, as I have big connections with that club. I have followed their fortunes for quite a while, and it fits into our pre-season plan.
“It will be a good, competitive game and we are looking forward to going up there.
“The facilities are really good, it’s the oldest club in the world, and I am holding a promise that I made to a close friend of mine, that one day I would take a team up there.
“It fitted in with our schedule and hopefully we will enjoy it, hopefully we will take a few supporters as well, and it will be a good night, played in a good spirit like all of the pre-season games have been.
“Hopefully we can round off our pre-season form and pre-season preparation in the right way, go and play well and get as much as we can out of the game.”
Kick-off at Sheffield’s Dronfield ground is 7.30pm, and admission is £8 (£4 concessions).