'Prickly' Westley has Curle's respect as Cobblers host rock-bottom Stevenage
Cobblers kick-off 2020 with a home game against Graham Westley's bottom-of-the-table Stevenage on New Year's Day.
Westley was appointed Boro manager for the fourth time last month when he replaced interim boss Mark Sampson, who was in charge for Town's 1-0 win at the Lamex Stadium in September.
"I know Graham and I've coached against him and his teams quite a lot," said Keith Curle.
"I think you can describe him as a prickly character at times but he's someone I've always got on well with.
"I've never had a fallout with him and I've never had an altercation with him on the side of the pitch and as a fellow manager I have a lot of respect for him."
Westley has a job on his hands to hoist Stevenage away from trouble at the bottom of League Two. Boro have won just two league matches this season - none away from home - and prop up the division with 17 points from 23 games.
Nonetheless, Curle wants his side to focus on doing what they do best and build on their improved display against Cheltenham.
"I think we need to earn the right to play," he added. "We stuttered at the start on Sunday and then got on the front foot and we had that good 25-minute period.
"Credit to Cheltenham, they put people on the line and they made good blocks and defended well because we weren't able to get that clear opening, even though Willo hit the post and Vadaine had a chance at the back stick.
"Things bounced around in the box and we couldn't land on it and the only scare we had was the two long throws they put in our box.
"They pride themselves on how they want to play and how to cause opposition problems but we showed we can stand up to that and we're brave enough to stand up to that and go one v one, two v two, three v three at the back and they didn't break us down.
"They had one shot from a throw-in but apart from that we gave a good account of ourselves."