Oxford City v Northampton Town (Tuesday, 19th July)
Northampton Town v Nottingham Forest (Wednesday, 20th July)
The friendlies come quick and fast from now on and the Cobblers face two matches in two nights as the preparations really kick into life. The Maunsell Cup Final on Saturday saw some silly rules come into play where we had to play six players for the entire ninety minutes so at least there’s a bit of flexibility in friendlies two and three that take place at Oxford City (tonight) and at home to Championship side Nottingham Forest (Wednesday).
Tonight’s encounter could see a return for John Johnson and Nana who both missed out at Brackley. Lewis Young was the man to cover at right back and by all accounts did a decent enough job in an unfamiliar position. Expect to see a few more experiments in the next week or so as Gary Johnson looks to get the most of the practice games in terms of checking out the flexibility of his squad.
Forest is, of course, the most high profile friendly so far and sees former England manager Steve (or Schteve) McClaren visit Sixfields with his new club. More localised interest will go on the returning Luke Chambers with the ex-Cobblers academy defender coming back to Sixfields for the first time since leaving for the City Ground in 2007. Chambers should get a decent reception after coming through the ranks to become one of the success stories of that particular period in which Mark Bunn and Brad Johnson also left for sides higher up the league ladder.
I wouldn’t expect it to be the case that tonight’s game at Oxford will be a youth and trialists game whereas the Forest game will be a more “first team” event with Johnson preferring to mix and match in both games.
One man who will be certain of a run out is trialist striker Adi Yussuf. The former Leicester man spent some of last season on loan at Tamworth and joined up with the Cobblers for pre-season training. After a short appearance on Saturday tonight is the big chance for Yussuf to impress and try to earn a contract alongside one or two new players that are unattached that Johnson wants to look at.
Plenty to look at over the next few days then before two Saturday home friendlies that should be geared more towards the shape and style of play as the season edges close to its beginning.