Curle could change Cobblers' shape for Derby County with Wharton facing ban
Keith Curle has hinted he could be forced into changing Cobblers' formation if centre-back Scott Wharton is banned for Friday's FA Cup fourth-round tie with Derby County.
The 22-year-old defender, on loan from Blackburn Rovers, has started Town's last 26 games in all competitions but is facing a three-match suspension after being sent off during the closing stages of Tuesday's 1-1 draw at Leyton Orient.
Wharton tangled with Jordan Maguire-Drew as both men tried to grab the ball in the aftermath of Josh Wright's penalty, sparking a 17-man brawl that saw both Wharton and Orient's James Dayton sent off.
Cobblers could appeal the decision and get his impending suspension overturned but, as it stands, they look set to be without their key defender for Tuesday's big cup tie, plus next week's league games against Scunthorpe and Macclesfield.
That will give Curle a headache given the success his side have enjoyed when operating with three at the back this season. Town now only have two natural centre-backs available - Charlie Goode and Jordan Turnbull - although they could recall young Jay Williams from his loan at Kettering.
"It will be a challenge for us," admitted Curle. "We've got two days now to work on it, whether that's a change of shape or a change of personnel.
"But there's 18, 19 games to go and there's going to be twists and turns and there'll be challenges that the players will have to face, whether that's team selection or periods in games.
"But I've got to say, the culture and the changing room we're creating at the football club, we accept those challenges.
"Things happen and sometimes you get a knock on the chin but we get straight back up."