FA CUP REPLAY: Curle thinks Cocu could go strong as Derby prepare for crunch clash against the Cobblers

Keith Curle admits he doesn't know whether or not Derby County boss Phillip Cocu is going to field his strongest side against the Cobblers on Tuesday night - but he feels the temptation must be there for the Dutchman to do just that.

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 11:14 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 11:14 am
Phillip Cocu made eight changes to his starting line-up when Derby drew 0-0 with the Cobblers last month

With a home tie against Manchester United awaiting the winners of the fourth round replay at Pride Park, and Derby including a certain Wayne Rooney in their ranks, it may appear that the script is already written.

The media spotlight since the draw was made has certainly been mainly about the chance that the Red Devils' leading scorer may line up against his former employers.

If you then factor in that the Rams played on Friday night rather than Saturday, and that they were on fire in a 4-0 win over Stoke City, then Curle feels Cocu may alter the thinking that has seen him make wholesale changes for FA Cup matches so far this season.

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"Wayne was, and is, a Manchester United legend, so the opportunity for the two to face each other is rightly getting all the media speculation and spotlight," said Curle, ahead of his team's trip to Pride Park.

"But there is the small matter that Northampton have to be overcome first of all, and I don't think they will be taking us lightly.

"I think they will be respectful in their preparation, and identifying our strengths and weaknesses, and our style of play."

Cocu admitted that his team were surprised by the Cobblers' direct style in the first match, and with that carrot of a home game against Manchester United dangling in front of the Dutchman's eyes, Curle admits he wouldn't be surprised if his goes strong on Tuesday.

Derby made nine changes for their third round win at Crystal Palace, and eight for their trip to the PTS Academy Stadium, but Curle's not so sure he'll do that this time around.

"I watched the game on Friday when Derby played Stoke, and that was an indication of what they are trying to create," said the Cobblers boss.

"There was free-flowing football, attacking football, there was inverted wingers, quality in midfield, goalscorers up front and people who can defend.

"They showed what they are trying to create there, and the argument now is that having had a glimpse of that, will it be an encouragement to try and replicate that and do the same again and play the same team against us?

"Does he need to rotate his team?

"They have had an extra day's rest as they played on Friday, and does he need to maintain the rhythm that he had in that game.

"You get that rhythm by picking the same team consistently, so we will see."

The Cobblers will definitely be making changes to the team that won 1-0 at Macclesfield on Saturday, as loan trio Callum Morton, Mark Marshall and Lloyd Jones are all ineligible.

Scott Wharton is available again after suspension, while Jordan Turnbull may be fit after missing the past two games with a slight muscle strain.