Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink says he knows the Cobblers can’t expect any gifts when they head north to take on promotion-chasing Bradford City on Saturday.
The Bantams currently sit fifth in Sky Bet League One, and although they have endured a patchy spell of form of late, going out of the FA Cup at league two Yeovil last weekend, they are still a formidable force.
There is some encouragement for the Cobblers in the fact Bradford’s home form hasn’t been as strong as you would expect.
Already this season, Stuart McCall’s men have lost at home in the league to Peterborough United, Scunthorpe United, Plymouth Argyle, Charlton, Fleetwood and Blackburn Rovers, so Valley Parade is hardly the fortress it may be perceived to be.
The flip side to that of course is that the Cobblers’ form away from Sixfields has been woeful, losing six matches on the spin in all competitions, and five in a row in the league.
They haven’t claimed a point on the road since the 2-1 win Oxford United on November 11, but the injection of five new players over the past couple of weeks, and last weekend’s win over Southend United, have raised confidence levels and self belief.
Hasselbaink is hopeful of getting something from the game, but is expecting a tough encounter in west Yorkshire.
“Bradford are fifth in the table, and you are not going to get any gifts,” said the Cobblers boss.
“You have to go there and really work hard for your gift, and we have to be prepared to do that, and we will be.
“It’s a nice place to go, there is a good atmosphere, and although it will be tough we are looking forward to the challenge.”
Hasselbaink will be hoping the team that takes to the field on Saturday will reproduce their second-half form in the win over Southend - and not the form of the first.
“In the second half against Southend I was very happy, but in the first half I felt we were really rushed,” he said.
“We realised the magnitude of the game in that first half, and we just needed to settle down, and calm down, and we did that and deserved to win.
“We created some good chances, and in the second half we passed the ball better, made more angles for each other, the availability was better, and we need to continue that this weekend.”
Hasselbaink will now have to decide on how many of his new signings he throws into the first team for the Bantams date.
Shay Facey made his full debut in the win over Southend, and is likely to keep his place at right-back, while Richard O’Donnell will start in goal.
Hildeberto Pereira, Jack Bridge and Joerdan Turnbull will all be pressing for a start, but Hasselbaink will be wary of throwing too many new faces in at once.
On the injury front, definitely out are defenders Aaron Pierre, Leon Barnett, Aaron Phillips and George Smith, but Daniel Powell could return after missing the Southend game with a hip-flex problem.