Midfielder McCormack close to Cobblers return, as Watson prepares for operation
Cobblers midfielder Alan McCormack is closing in on a first team return - but this weekend's trip to Bradford City has come too soon.
The Irishman hasn't played since damaging a hamstring in the 1-0 opening day defeat to Walsall on August 3, but he is now back in full training.
McCormack is a key part of Keith Curle's plans for the season, but the Cobblers boss insists he won't be taking any risks in rushing the 35-year-old back too early, and that he is hoping to organise a reserve team friendly for the former Luton Town man to play in next week.
"Part of Alan's protocol now is his return to field-based training," said Curle as he took a break from training to speak to the media at the PTS Academy Stadium on Thursday.
"We now need to make him robust, and he needs to have continued training sessions.
"The next progression after that is a game, so that we are able to extend his game time, going from 45 minutes to an hour, and we will hopefully be able to do that next week.
"That is pencilled in at the minute, and it will be good if we can do that.
"Alan needs to make himself robust so that he can handle the rigours of training, because we want to train at a high tempo.
"If you want to play at a high tempo, you have to train at a high tempo."
Central defenders Charlie Goode and Jordan Turnbull, who both missed Tuesday night's Leasing.com Trophy loss to Peterborough United through inury, were both back in training on Thursday and should be okay for Saturday's trip to Bradford City.
Matty Warburton, who suffered a cut to his ankle against Posh, should also be okay for the weekend, but it could be too early for Reece Hall-Johnson, while goalkeeper Steve Arnold is out.
Also missing at the weekend will be Ryan Watson, who has been ruled out for at least two months after breaking his collarbone in the defeat to Peterborough.
Asked for an update on Watson's progress, a slightly frustrated Curle said: "It has been slightly disappointing, because it was identified on Tuesday that Ryan needed an operation, but the earliest we could get it done was tomorrow (Friday).
"Now it is just a case of fingers crossed, hoping that the operation goes well, and then we wish him a speedy recovery."