Hoskins a doubt as Cobblers relish return to competitive action

Keith CurleKeith Curle
Keith Curle
Town set for first competitive fixture since the League Two play-off final

Cobblers play their first competitive game since the League Two play-off final this weekend and manager Keith Curle says his players are 'desperate' to pick up from where they left off.

It’s a little over two months since the Cobblers thrillingly and emphatically defeated Exeter City 4-0 at Wembley and much has changed, not least the division in which they are competing.

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Town are now up against the likes of Ipswich Town, Sunderland and Hull City in League One, and they'll have to do it without several key players from last season, including captain Charlie Goode.

Curle has made eight signings and counting this summer, although first his players face a tough test against Championship side Cardiff City in round one of the Carabao Cup.

“It’s been a short period from the play-off final but the pleasing thing is that the players have been desperate to get back playing,” said Curle.

“They want to be back in the environment and that shows the standard of the environment that we’ve created because players and staff want to work and want to be back in the building – that’s very pleasing.

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“I’m happy with where we are. The players were giving their programmes after the final and they’ve all come back in good shape.

“The players we’ve added to the squad have also kept themselves in good shape. A couple have needed to catch up and are still catching up due to not playing games but they all look ready to go.”

Although some might see Saturday’s game as a glorified friendly ahead of next week's League One opener against AFC Wimbledon, Curle will be expecting nothing less than maximum effort from his players.

“The message is very clear in our changing room – this is an opportunity for all players to grab the shirt and to keep it,” he added.

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“It’s a competitive game and they’ll be representing themselves and representing the club and it’s a chance for them to stake their claim to get into the team next week.

“I’ve got an idea of the team that I want to start but we’ll still have some additions to the squad before the start of the season. We’ve got good competition.”

Curle could be without Sam Hoskins due to a minor hamstring problem.

"Sam has been sent for a scan and we're waiting for the results of that," said Curle. "He's a little bit sore so that could take a week or 10 days but he's a quick healer."

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