Tough pre-season schedule designed to 'create focus' as Cobblers prepare for Sheffield Wednesday test

Cobblers boss Keith Curle (Picture: Pete Norton)
Cobblers boss Keith Curle (Picture: Pete Norton)

Keith Curle insists the Cobblers' tough pre-season schedule has been designed to 'create focus' and a 'team ethic' within his new-look squad.

Having returned from their training camp in Spain on Saturday evening, the Cobblers get back down to serious work on Tuesday night when they play the first of three home pre-season friendlies against higher league opposition.

Sky Bet Championship side Sheffield Wednesday are the visitors to the PTS Academy Stadium (ko 7.30pm), with Steel City neighbours Sheffield United in town on Saturday.

A midweek trip to National League North side Brackley Town follows next Tuesday, before the pre-season campaign is wrapped up with a July 26 home date with league one outfit Milton Keynes Dons.

Town also played Bournemouth Under-23s and league one Coventry City while in Spain, drawing both matches, and the competitive nature of the warm-up games is crucial for Curle, as he tries to integrate the 11 new signings he has made over the summer.

"Some managers will choose their opposition carefully, so they get a mixture of lower league opposition, get a few wins under their belts and build confidence," said the Cobblers boss.

"Right from day one, we knew we were going to be playing good opposition, and that was the plan.

"Because very quickly that creates a focus among the group, and we need that team ethic that we need to be organised, we need to be disciplined and we need to know our roles and responsibilities against very good teams.

"If one chink is missing in the link, then you will find that good teams will cause you a lot of problems."

The clash with the Owls is the first opportunity for the Cobblers home support to see the new faces the club has signed in action, with most of them expected to feature at some point.

"It is a great opportunity for the supporters to familiarise themselves with the players, and to get an understanding of their roles within the team," said Curle.

"I think we have got some very good characters who will endear themselves to the supporters, to the football club and to the local community."

Reports on Monday stated that Wednesday boss Steve Bruce had resigned from the club as he eyes a move to Premier League Newcastle United, but there has still been no official confirmation of that.

But the Sheffield Star newspaper is reporting that Bruce has stepped down, and that the Owls will be managed by coach Lee Bullen at the PTS.

Bullen, a former Owls captain, has twice previously stood in as caretaker manager at Hillsborough, deputising first for Carlos Carvalhal and then Jos Luhukay.