The Cobblers are to field a strong line-up for their FA Cup first round replay at Scunthorpe United on Tuesday with manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink eager to stretch their unbeaten run to seven games.
A goalless draw at Sixfields last weekend meant Scunthorpe and Northampton will reconvene at Glanford Park this evening – ahead of a league clash on Saturday – with a trip to Doncaster Rovers awaiting the winners in round two next month.
Town’s visit to Lincolnshire marks their fourth game of seven in the space of 21 days but, despite important league fixtures on the horizon, Hasselbaink will not be taking it lightly as he looks to build on Saturday’s confidence-boosting win at Oxford United.
“Now it’s about the next game and the next game is the FA Cup,” he said.
“We’re going to try and put a really strong team together and go for that as well and then we have them (Scunthorpe) at home at the weekend.
“Saturday’s win will give us confidence but we can’t be standing still with that because there’s so much more work that we have to do and can do and will keep on doing.
He’s still coming out of hibernation and he’s still waking up because there was a lot of time when he wasn’t playing.Hasselbaink on Lewis McGugan
“We want to keep improving and hopefully we will.”
Having come off on the hour-mark against Oxford, as scheduled, influential midfielder John-Joe O’Toole is available again for Tuesday, although Daniel Powell seems certain to miss out after limping off with a hamstring injury while Matt Grimes (suspended) and Matt Ingram (ineligible) are also absent.
Hasselbaink explained: “John-Joe will be available. He was always not going to finish the match (on Saturday) because he came off in the last game.
“I risked him because we needed that presence, especially going to Oxford, and he was always going to play around 70 minutes.
“So he will be available on Tuesday but I don’t know about Daniel. It’s a hamstring problem.”
With several players returning to fitness, Hasselbaink faces a few selection headaches in the coming weeks, particularly in midfield where he has a number of options.
One of those is Lewis McGugan who, for the third game in a week, impressed in Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Grenoble Road.
“He’s got quality,” said Hasselbaink. “He’s still coming out of hibernation and he’s still waking up because there was a lot of time when he wasn’t playing.
“We know he’s got good quality and he has the confidence to do something and I’m very happy.
“You want options as a manager and you want to keep everyone as fit as possible because you want them to push each other and get the best out of one another.”