The Cobblers will again be without midfielder John-Joe O’Toole and central defender Ash Taylor for Saturday’s Sky Bet League Two trip to Cambridge United.
The pair are nursing ankle and groin injuries respectively, with O’Toole not having played since November, and Taylor missing last weekend’s 3-0 win over Carlisle United.
The former Aberdeen man is set to be out for up to 10 days, while O’Toole could be out for a similar length of time as he has yet to return to full training.
The former Bristol Rovers man was out on the Moulton College training pitch on Tuesday morning and was doing running and ball-work, but Curle explained that, thanks to the player having a second pain-killing injection, he needs to be nursed back to full fitness and go through the club’s ‘return to training protocol’.
“John-Joe is field-based and is working hard,” said the Cobblers boss, who has been without O’Toole since the 3-1 defeat at Newport County six weeks ago.
“He has had a second injection to ease the pain, and when you have an injection you need to shut it down for a period of time.
We don’t introduce players back into training until they are ready, and I think that is important because we do train at a very good tempo, and players can’t afford to come in and be off the paceCobblers boss Keith Curle
“You try and shut the player down for 48 hours, and then you try and build the workload back up.
“John-Joe is going through the football procedures and football movements to find out if there is any sort of reaction, and to see if the injection has worked.
“If it has, then he is a step closer and we can up his workload and make sure there is no reaction to that, and that is our return to training protocol.
“We don’t introduce players back into training until they are ready, and I think that is important because we do train at a very good tempo, and players can’t afford to come in and be off the pace.
“That would affect their output, and if they can’t train how they need to train, how they want to train and how they used to train, then they do look below par and that doesn’t do anybody any favours.
“So we work it that when they do come back in they are able to hit the ground running and go straight back in to being, or as close to being, where they were when they were fully fit.”
On Taylor, who was withdrawn from action during last week’s 2-1 Checkatrade Trophy defeat to Bristol Rovers, Curle added: “Ash has been in every day and everything is settling down.
“He has had a scan that has identified little bits and pieces, but the injury is not as serious as first thought.
“It is about realigning the fibres, getting him settled down, and then starting again, and I think Ash will be a week to 10 days.
“At a push, he may be available this weekend if it settles down, but I would say it will probably be after this Saturday’s game.”
Aside from O’Toole and Taylor, the Town squad has a clean bill of health for the clash at a Cambridge outfit that are now managed by former Cobblers boss Colin Calderwood.