Assistant boss Dave Kerslake is expecting Oxford United to be positive and attack the Cobblers when they come to Sixfields on Saturday (ko 3pm).
Michael Appleton’s men have enjoyed a strong season in Sky Bet League One following their promotion as runners-up to the Cobblers last May.
Oxford are a really good side. They are hard-working, they are physically strong, they are fit, and they won’t sit back. They will come at us, so we will have to be ready for thatCobblers assistant boss Dave Kerslake
After a mixed start, Oxford have found their feet and have won 15 of their past 24 games in all competitions, a run that has seen them rise to the fringes of the play-off picture and earn a place in the final of the Checkatrade Trophy at Wembley, where they will play Coventry City next weekend.
Indeed, it seems Oxford are something of a win-or-bust outfit, as they haven’t drawn a game in 2017, their most recent stalemate a 0-0 at Walsall on December 31.
And Kerslake is anticipating they will adopt a positive approach at Sixfields, especially after they were beaten 4-2 at home by Bolton on Tuesday, a result that leaves them no room for error if they are to challenge for the top six.
“Oxford are a really good side,” said Kerslake. “They are hard-working, they are physically strong, they are fit, and they won’t sit back.
“They will come at us, so we will have to be ready for that.
“The manager will give the players a gameplan, and if we have the will to win that we have had recently then we will be okay.”
Cobblers against Oxford has become a grudge match in recent seasons, and although Kerslake and boss Justin Edinburgh are new to the fixture, they are aware of the history.
“It’s another game to us, but we know that, like all games, it means something to the supporters,” said Kerslake.
“I guess there is a little bit of extra spice that will hopefully make our fans even more vocal than they have been, and it should be a good one to watch.”
The Cobblers go into the game with no fresh injury concerns, with the only absentees being Alex Revell (calf), Gaby Zakuani (hamstring) and Sam Hoskins (knee).
Once again Edinburgh will have a choice over which if his six loan players to leave out of his matchday squad, with Hiram Boateng the unlucky man for last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at Bolton.