Curle prepared for tough decisions as players return to fitness

Matt Crooks could be in contention to return this weekend
Matt Crooks could be in contention to return this weekend

Cobblers boss Keith Curle is prepared to make some tough decisions when he picks his starting team to face Grimsby Town this weekend with several players back in the frame for selection following injury and suspension.

Curle has been hampered by numerous unavailabilities ever since he walked into the building at the PTS Stadium last month, being without up to 10 players at one stage due to a combination of injury and suspension.

It’s also coming to that time where players know the January window will be open again and if they’re not furthering their careers here, they’ll be looking elsewhere.

Ash Taylor, Shay Facey, Junior Morias and Dean Bowditch have been among some of the long-term absentees, while Sam Foley also missed four games through suspension following his straight red card against Oldham Athletic.

The Cobblers have found some excellent form despite those missing players though, and with Facey and Taylor fit again having come on at Exeter City last Saturday, and Foley also available this weekend, Curle knows he has several selection headaches.

Competition is particularly strong in defence where club captain Taylor, sidelined for six weeks with a hamstring injury, faces a tough ask to win his place back given the form of Jordan Turnbull and Aaron Pierre.

Curle said: “He was part of the first game I had but unfortunately he got injured on the Thursday of the following week and it’s been frustrating for the lad because he’s been watching the results and has been desperate to get back into the team.

“Him, Junior Morias, Sam Foley, Dean Bowditch and other players have been on the sidelines waiting to get back involved and they want to be involved.

“That’s pleasing and I think we’re coming into a period now where we’ll have a few games and we’re going to have a very competitive squad with people trying to get into the team.

“It’s also coming to that time where players know the January window will be open again and if they’re not furthering their careers here, they’ll be looking elsewhere.”

Morias serves the second of his three-game ban so misses the visit of Grimsby on Saturday, while Matt Crooks and Dean Bowditch remain doubts and Leon Barnett is still sidelined. Kevin van Veen, who played through injury for 70 minutes on Saturday, will be monitored this week.