O'Toole set for recall as Cobblers take on high-flyers Dale
John-Joe O'Toole is set to go straight back into the starting line-up for the Cobblers' Sky Bet League One clash with Rochdale at Sixfields on Saturday (ko 3pm).
The midfielder has missed the past two games due to a suspension incurred for picking up 10 bookings in the first four months of the season, but it seems certain he will be recalled at the weekend.
Town were 3-2 winners at Port Vale in his first game out, but were then stunned by non-League Stourbridge in the FA Cup on Tuesday night, and Page has gone on record to say how unhappy he was with his team’s midfield performance.
Last season’s supporters player of the year would certainly add strength and guile to the centre of midfield, and Page said: “John-Joe’s suspension is up, thankfully.
“We are disappointed with the accumulation of bookings he has had, and we have had a chat with him about his discipline.
“You need your full squad if your are going to be successful in this division, and John-Joe has been a fantastic servant for this football club.
“He is a player that we recognise has got quality, and we need him available.”
Another player who has missed the past two games is Alfie Potter after he picked up a knock in training, but he is fully fit and available and he too could be pushing for a start against Dale.
“They are two good additions to the squad,” said the Town boss.
JJ Hooper will not be involved against Rochdale though, as he is still struggling with the thigh strain he picked up in the defeat at Gillingham last month.
The forward has endured a mixed time while on loan at Sixfields from Port Vale, but Page revealed the Potteries club have decided to recall the player, and he will definitely return to his parent club in January.
“I think Port Vale have made it public now that they want to call him back in January,” said Page, who had been using the player on the left of a front three before his injury.
“They have seen that he has come and has done okay for us playing in that position, and they want to take him back, they have made that quite clear.
“With his injury, he had a setback last week but fingers crossed he may be eligible for the Oxford game on Boxing Day. So he might have a couple of games with us before going back to Port Vale.”
Another player who could be back and available for the festive trip to the Kassam Stadium is Zander Diamond.
The central defender fractured a cheekbone in the 1-0 derby defeat to Peterborough almost a month ago, but he returned to training on Thursday and is making excellent progress.
“Zander is back in training, not in full contact training because we can’t run that risk, although he is wearing a mask,” said Page. “He has had that fitted so that will protect him a little bit.
“It’s great to have him back in training, and he could potentially be available for the Oxford game, which is great news.”