Cobblers boss Chris Wilder has welcomed the selection headache he faces ahead of Saturday’s trip to Sky Bet League Two leaders Burton Albion.
The return to the squad after suspension of Ryan Cresswell and Jason Taylor, and the improving sharpness of Marc Richards, means Wilder has some tough calls to make this weekend.
All three will be champing at the bit to take on title-chasing Albion, but following Saturday’s 2-0 win over Cheltenham Town those in possession of the shirt will feel they deserve to keep it.
“I want my job to be as difficult as possible, it is not a popularity contest,” admitted Wilder.
“I have to make tough decisions, but would I rather have those guys (Cresswell and Taylor) involved?
“Would I rather have Marc Richards involved? Of course I would, it’s an absolute no-brainer.
“We want that squad to be as strong, as tough and as good as possible, and going forward, into next season, if we can have that luxury of having really good competition for places that would be great.”
Richards is fit for selection again after recovering from an Achilles problem, and has come off the bench in the past two matches, scoring the second goal in the win over the Robins.
Wilder would love to be able to let his 18-goal top-scorer loose from the start, but says he will not take any risks with the former Chesterfield man.
“We have a decision to make on Marc, because he has had a few more minutes under his belt,” said the Cobblers boss.
“He wasn’t really due to come back for the Oxford game, but we felt he was right, and he has worked extremely hard to get fit.
“As I have said before though, with the injury he’s had we will have to assess whether or not it is a risk.
“We won’t do anything that is going to affect Marc long term.
“He was an important player before his injury, and you saw what he brought to us on Saturday, and he is an important player for us next season.
“We’ll have a look, but there won’t be any stupid gambles.”