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25 February 2013

Monday press call ahead of trip to Sixfields

With games coming thick and fast at the moment, managers don’t have a great deal of time to prepare their teams for a Tuesday night fixture following a tough match just a few days before.

Rovers boss John Ward, like many of his contemporaries, just gets on with things, no matter what fate throws at him.

“All clubs are in a similar position,” he said this morning, “We will have a quick head count and see who is available, and what bumps and bruises we have, then get legs moving, get on the bus and go and play another match. In all honesty, that’s how it’s going to be between now and the end of the season.”

There are some concerns over the knee injury sustained by Seanan Clucas at Morecambe on Saturday.

“His knee is very sore and, at the moment, we think it’s a nasty injury. We will need to assess it more closely over the next couple of days.”

He isn’t sure whether any of the other injured players will be available for tomorrow’s trip to Northampton

“Ryan Brunt will be back out with us this morning and we will have a look at him again. There’s no serious damage to his knee, but it is still very sore. However, he’s prepared to get his boots on today and give it a go and if he’s OK there’s a chance he might be included tomorrow.

“Unfortunately we are unable to say the same about Fabian Broghammer and Dave Clarkson, who will both miss out.”

Rovers travel to Sixfields to take on a team that has won 12 of its 15 home games this season, and lies in fourth place in the League Two table.

“In terms of their league position they are no different to a number of teams we have played recently. We have managed some good results against teams challenging at the top of the league, and going to Northampton doesn’t phase me or my players; we know what to expect.

“They are a team that scores goals and are a top six side because they are effective. They have a management team, in Aidy Boothroyd and Andy King, who know how to get out of this league. When Aidy went in there last season they were in a similar position to ourselves and in danger of dropping out of the league.

This season, though, he and Andy have not only turned things around, they have given themselves a chance of getting out of the league at the top end so we know that we can expect a difficult game.”

One of the strikeforce, Clive Platt, is well known to the manager from their time together at Colchester. 

“He’s a good lad and is exceptionally good in the air. His strike partner, Adebayo Akinfenwa, has a good scoring record and is a dangerous player in and around the box.”

While recognising that Northampton are one of the division’s in form sides, the same can be said about Rovers, who have experienced defeat on only two occasions since Ward took over as manager.

“We earned ourselves a good point against Morecambe on Saturday and the team showed a great attitude against a side that had only lost one of their previous six games. We stood our corner and defended well in the first half and then, in the second half, had couple of good chances to score. It was a good game of football, though, and both teams deserve credit for that.”

Having worked closely with Northampton boss Aidy Boothroyd when the two of them were together at Colchester, the manager knows what sort of game to expect tomorrow.

“They are good and effective side, so I think it’s unlikely to be an open game of football with lots of goals. Aidy is a good manager. He gained promotion when he was at Watford, and we almost did it with Colchester. He has a good football brain, and is a good manager.”

The manager expects his side to have to defend well tomorrow.

“We had to do that at Morecambe and at Rotherham, but one of the reasons we have improved of late is because we have been able to select a consistent back five. We will need to be at our best again tomorrow against a team in the top six.

“It’s still very tight at the bottom of the league, and we aren’t out of it by any means and we still have to go for it. We have a relatively small squad and we have to work hard with that group and see if we can maintain, and improve, on what we are doing.

“There’s no way we will be thinking all is ok, and we have to continue to work extremely hard especially with the games coming thick and fast.” 

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