Northampton Town: Cobblers v Burton Albion - Jefferson Lake’s preview

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THE Cobblers are ready to turn to a forward combination that combines innocence and experience as they enter their season’s make or break territory.

Town finished Saturday’s draw at Southend with Leon McKenzie as a solo striker and Michael Jacobs operating in almost a free role behind him.

With a little more luck, the duo may have found the decisive goal to unlock the game and end the streak of stalemates, which now stands at six.

More often used as a winger in the senior side, Jacobs is a natural in the middle from his time in the Northampton youth system, and his ability to both pick a pass and dribble past a player makes him a perfect fit to play in the hole.

As illustrated on Saturday, he is also capable of joining in as an auxiliary striker and in broken play is comfortable going past McKenzie to spring any offside traps.

With all these factors in mind, manager Ian Sampson will look to the pair, who are separated by 13 years and 350 games of experience, to provide the spark that is now required if Town are to get a win and kick-start their play-off bid.

“When we went to the 4-4-1-1 formation it went quite well for us,” he said.

“We played quite well using that system and some of the best football we’ve played this season has come when we’ve played that formation.

“We’ll have a look at that. Burton play a similar way and we’ll have a look at maybe just matching them up.

“Michael played centre-mid all the time when he was with the kids and he’s played behind the striker a couple of times for us this season and done well with it.

“Against Oxford he played there and did a job to stop (Paul) McLaren getting on the ball.

“He did well there at Gillingham as well, and on Saturday he looked like he would be able to create something.”

This might be a pretty good time to be playing Burton.

As well as shipping four goals to Rotherham and Wycombe in their past two games, they are also in the midst of a seriously hectic run that will see them play 22 games in 10 weeks – their next blank midweek is between the final two matches of the season.

By that stage, the squad is likely to be more or less out on their feet and even now the injury situation at the Pirelli is not the brightest, with Calvin Zola, who was close to becoming a Cobblers player in January, sidelined with a hamstring.

“They’ve got a lot of catching up to do,” he said. “I know Paul (Peschisolido) quite well and he’s tearing his hair out that he can’t get a result.

“They have got a lot of games coming up and hopefully we can take advantage of that factor.”

Town have one or two injury concerns of their own, with Liam Davis definitely out and Dean Beckwith on the borderline through illness.

Craig Hinton remains out for about a month, while McKenzie didn’t train yesterday with a view to keeping him fresh for tonight’s game.

“Liam Davis is out for tonight and he’ll probably miss Saturday as well,” confirmed the Cobblers boss.

“He’s got a problem with his Achilles that he picked up at Southend, that’s why we took him off at half-time.

“Dean Beckwith has been struggling with a bit of flu and Josh Walker is touch and go but the signs are more positive with him after some treatment at Watford at the weekend

“If we don’t have Dean then Johnno can come in there and we can slot Paul Rodgers in at right-back, so we’ve got cover, although Craig Hinton has had to have an injection this week on the injury he’s had for a while.”