Torquay United boss Martin Ling says he is surprised the Cobblers aren’t sitting pretty in the top seven of npower League Two.
But the former Orient manager admits he still believes Aidy Boothroyd’s men will follow the example of Crewe Alexandra last term, and finish at the very least in the promotion play-off shake-up come the end of the season.
Torquay play host to the Cobblers at Plainmoor tomorrow afternoon (ko 3pm), and Ling is anticipating a tough test for his team, who are currently two points better off than the Cobblers.
“When you look at Northampton’s squad on paper, the finances they’ve got and a manager with experience from higher leagues, I thought they would be in the top seven this year,” said Ling.
“They are perhaps underachieving at the moment, but the league is so tight from around 18th up to fourth that anyone having a good run can push their way up.
“Where were Crewe at this stage last year? And they came out of the pack to win promotion.”
As is nearly always the case, Adebayo Akinfenwa is seen as the main threat by the opposition, and Ling is a big admirer of the big man, who yesterday was named as the npower League Two player of the month.
Akinfenwa scored his 14th goal of another productive season in last Saturda’s 3-2 defeat to Cheltenham, and Ling said: “He [Akinfenwa] has had a great month and I know he played down here before.
“He is a certain breed because you look at him and think he’s too big to play football, but he’s been on fire for Northampton.
“They had a bad result last Saturday but he still managed to get on the score-sheet, and we need to make sure we’re at our best to keep him quiet.
“If we do that, it will go some way to keeping the whole Northampton team quiet.”
Torquay WILL be without the suspended Brian Saah against the Cobblers.
The defender will serve the first of a three-match ban after he was sent off for violent conduct during last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Bradford City.
Reading loanee Angus MacDonald will come into the starting line-up in place of Saah, while captain Lee Mansell comes back into contention after serving a three-match ban.
Striker Rene Howe is battling to recover from a knee injury and will be given a late fitness test, while midfielder Billy Bodin is unlikely to shake off his injury in time.
COBBLERS fans travelling to Torquay tomorrow won’t be allowed to stand on Plainmoor’s away terrace, as it has been closed for the day.
A statement on the official Torquay website read: “Northampton fans will be seated in Bristow’s Bench for Saturday’s clash at Plainmoor.
“Due to the relatively low number of visiting supporters expected, the decision has been taken to close the away terrace. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
The decision means admission for Town fans will now be £20 instead of £17, and £16 for concessions instead of £13. Admission for under-16s remains unchanged at £6.