Boss Keith Curle is backing young loanees Timi Elsnik and Joe Powell to keep on improving and play a key role for the Cobblers in the final 13 games of the Sky Bet League Two season.
The midfield pair were brought to the club in the January transfer window, with Elsnik joining from Championship side Derby County and Powell signing from Premier League West Ham United.
Both players made their debuts in the 1-1 draw with Morecambe lasat month, with Elsnik making an immediate impact as he impressed and scored, while Powell struggled.
The pair have gone on to start three games apiece, with Powell playing his part in the recent 2-1 win at Tranmere Rovers, and they were both in the team for Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Crawley Town.
Elsnik and Powell played in an attacking midfield trio alongside Jack Bridge, but struggled to assert themselves, although both did go close to breaking the deadlock.
In the first half, Elsnik fired a close range volley from a long throw into the box just over the bar, and then after the break, Powell was a whisker wide with a 25-yard free-kick, the effort proving to be his final touch before he was substituted.
Despite those glimpses of quality, the pair failed to make much of an impression in general play, although Curle says he is pleased with the pair’s progress and that they will continue to improve.
“I think Joe Powell is growing with every minute he plays,” said the Cobblers boss.
“I think in the first game, with how he wanted to play he found it a massive step up, and a massive leap from Under-23s Premier League football to competitive league two football.
“We knew it was going to take time for him to adjust, but the pleasing thing is he has handled it, he has responded to it and there is more to come from him.”
On Elsnik, he added: “Timi is a goalscoring midfielder that can get on the front foot, and we saw that with the opportunity he had on Saturday.
“He made great movement in the box his finish went slightly over the bar, but he arrives in the box and creates chances.
“I think he is the type of player who overa period of time can be quiet in a game, but will then score goals, and goals change games.
“I am very pleased with him.”
Both will be hoping to be involved in Saturday’s clash at Stevenage, but competition for places is expected to intensify as Sam Foley, Shay Facey and Jordan Turnbull are all expected to be available.
Striker Marvin Sordell may also feature as he is close to recovering from his knee problem.