Fergie will have Posh ready for a ‘messy battle’ against Cobblers under the London Road lights, plus team news from both camps
Posh boss Darren Ferguson admits he doesn’t have a clue how local rivals Northampton Town will line-up at the Weston Homes Stadium on Friday night (April 16, 7.45pm), but he knows exactly how they will play.
Ferguson has studied recent Cobblers matches and he’s been impressed with their organisation, spirit and commitment.
So much so he believes tomorrow’s derby could turn out to be as tough as the Posh games still to come against play-off chasers Charlton Athletic and Lincoln City.
Posh are seeking a win double over Cobblers having won 2-0 at Sixfields in October.
“Northampton promoted a manager (Jon Brady) from the Academy and he’s done a good job,” Ferguson said. “He certainly has his team well organised and he will certainly have them ready to fight on Friday.
“I’ve watched a lot of their recent games. They seem to have played five different formations in the last five matches so guessing what they will use against us is difficult.
“What I do know is they will get the ball forward quickly and they will try and make it a messy game.
“It’s going to be a very difficult game for us, one of the hardest we have left, and we will have to be ready for a battle. It will be a lot tougher than last week’s game against another team (Swindon) fighting for their lives. We were comfortable in the game at Northampton, but this one will be far more competitive.
“We will definitely have to look after the ball well. That will be the key to winning what is another vital match. The path to promotion is set out right in front of us now. We have four of the next five matches at home and we need to cash in that advantage.”
Ferguson is happy the match was brought forward from Saturday even though strugglers Burton Albion (2-2) and Bristol Rovers (0-0) both drew under the London Road lights this season.
The match was moved to avoid a clash with the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral on Saturday.
Posh have also been boosted by the expected return from injury of forward Sammie Szmodics who missed the stroll at Swindon with a shoulder injury.
“I love a night game,” Ferguson said. “As soon as I realised we would have to move the game, a Friday night kick off was my first choice.
“Games under the floodlights at our place are always special and of course it gives us an extra day to prepare for the home game against Gillingham on Tuesday (April 20). If we can win on Friday we will put the pressure on the other sides at the top who don’t play until Saturday.
“To have almost a fully fit squad in April is also fantastic news. Everyone apart from Christy Pym is fit now and he should be back for the game against Gillingham.
“Sammie had an injection in his shoulder on Monday and he should be fine.
“We have six huge games to go and we will need everyone fit and firing to make sure we get where we want to go.”
Szmodics is likely to replace Mo Eisa from the side that started last weekend’s match at the County Ground.
Cobblers are without long-term injury victims goalkeeper Steve Arnold, midfielder Jack Sowerby and on-loan Rotherham winger Mikel Miller.
Tomorrow’s visitors could hand a first start to forward Alex Jones who has happy memories of playing at London Road and against Posh.
Jones scored twice for Port Vale in a 2-2 League One draw at London Road in the 2016-17 season and then netted the only goal of the game for Bradford City against Posh at Valley Parade later that same season.
Leaders Hull City are at home to mid-table, but in-form, Fleetwood Town on Saturday when third-placed Sunderland have a tough-looking game at fourth-placed Blackpool, a side defending a 15-game unbeaten run.
And next Tuesday there’s a huge, and potentially decisive, clash between Hull and Sunderland at the KCOM Stadium.