Peterborough United manager Grant McCann insists a first Cobblers derby for seven years tomorrow (October 18) is perfect timing for his under-performing side
Posh host local rivals Northampton Town in a League One fixture at the ABAX Stadium (7.45pm kick off) looking to bounce back from a terrible performance at Fleetwood on Saturday (October 15).
It’s the first time since 2009 that Cobblers have caught Posh up in the Football League ladder, but McCann is well aware how much victory would mean to the home fans.
McCann has drilled that particular message into his players today. Happily he has reported the illness in the camp that caused such disruption ahead of the 2-0 defeat Highbury has vanished.
That means top scorer Marcus Maddison will return. It wouldn’t be the greatest surprise if defenders Michael Bostwick and Michael Smith also won their places back in the starting line-up as McCann stated it’s a game for ‘leaders’.
“I never got the opportunity to play for Posh against Northampton which I greatly regret,” McCann remarked. “But I know exactly what the fixture means to everyone at the club and the fans.
“It’s a chance for a player to become a hero, a legend, like Charlie Lee did when he scored the winning goal in the last meeting and it’s also the chance for the players to repay the fans for our performance in Fleetwood.
“The players have been left in no doubt about the magnitude of this game. It’s huge for us. Derby games are great to play in. The atmosphere under lights will be brilliant and I have enough big-game players in my squad to be confident,
“It’s the perfect game for us though. If we win this game what went on at the weekend will be pushed to the back of the mind. We need to respond in the right way and make sure we get the three points.
“Apart from the Bradford game, we’ve been very good at home. We should have more wins, but we let in late goals against Port Vale and Swindon.
“But the performances have been there and a repeat of our display in the last game against Bury will do nicely.
“The illness that kept Marcus Maddison and Michael Bostwick out of the game at the weekend has cleared up which is good. I desperately wanted to keep the same team at Fleetwood, but Marcus was feeling dizzy and vomiting before the match.
“Marcus is a key man for us as he’s hard to contain when on form and it’s a game when we will need all our leaders on the pitch.”
A win for 11th-placed Posh would push them up above ninth-placed Northampton. It could even take them into the top six although there is a full programme of League One games tomorrow.
Cobblers are expected to recall former Posh centre-back Gaby Zakuani tomorrow. Ex-Posh midfielder Harry Beautyman could also play. Both players left Posh in the summer.
Cobblers will be without suspended midfielders Jak McCourt and Matty Taylor.
“Everyone says Northampton have had a good season so far,” McCann added. “But we are a point behind them which shows how tight League One is.
“I haven’t spoken to Gaby or Harry since they left the club. I am only interested in my own players and I remain convinced we have a squad capable of challenging for the top six.”
Home ticket sales for the derby were closing in on 6,500 (including season tickets) at 4pm today (October 17). Northampton have sold their entire allocation of 2,400.