Boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is expecting an ‘old-fashioned English’ game when the Cobblers come up against fellow strugglers Southend United at Sixfields on Saturday (ko 2pm).
Town, with one in 11, take on the Shrimpers, who have lost six of their past seven, and there is every chance this weekend’s match is not going to be pretty as both sides try to get out of slumps in form.
The two teams met at Roots Hall in September in what was Hasselbaink’s third game in charge of the Cobblers, and it was a frustrating day for the Dutchman as Town threw away a 2-0 half-time lead to draw 2-2.
The main reason for that was a change of tactics by the home side, and the Cobblers were caught cold early in the second half by Southend’s very direct approach, with a series long balls over the top and into the full-back channels causing Town’s defence all sorts of problems.
Southend boss Phil Brown couldn’t be blamed for adopting what was a successful tactic from the start at Sixfields this weekend, and Hasselbaink is anticipating a testing afternoon.
“Southend will be a very important match for us,” said the Cobblers boss.
“It’s going to be a match that will be an old-fashioned English type of game. Southend are a very strong side, mentally, and they like to keep other teams on the back foot.
“They turn teams and we will have to be able to cope with that and put them under pressure, but I’m convinced that we should be all right with the help of our supporters.”
The Cobblers squad has been boosted by the arrival of Portuguese winger Hildeberto Pareira on loan from Legia Warsaw, while it could be that at least one more new face will also arrive ahead of the game.
The club are in talks with several players about signing on at Sixfields, but Hasselbaink knows he has to make sure he brings in the right men and will take his time in doing so, rather than rushing in to take players for the sake of it.
On the injury front, central defenders Leon Barnett and Aaron Pierre are still doubts, as is striker Alex Revell, who has yet to fully recover from a groin operation, while Aaron Phillips (thigh) remains sidelined.
Lewis McGugan and Ryan McGivern left the club earlier this week after their short-term contracts expired.