Northampton Town take on AFC Wimbledon on the opening day of the 2020/21 League One season at 3pm on Saturday. The match will be played at the PTS Academy Stadium in Northampton.
Northampton boss Keith Curle has a squad which is currently heavy with injuries. Harry Smith, Joseph Mills and Luka Racic were all substituted off due to injury in Tuesday nights 3-1 defeat to MK Dons in the EFL Trophy. When speaking to the Northampton Chronicle and Echo Curle said he wasn't going to give much away, making it difficult to see if they will be in contention for the season opener, but says that the Cobblers will still be competitive on Saturday.
These three injuries add to the four other players who will be out of contention for Saturday's game which includes: Nicky Adams, Sam Hoskins, Scott Pollock and Shaun McWilliams.
On a positive note, new striker Benny Ashley-Seal will be in contention for the opening game after he was registered too late to make Tuesday nights defeat.
As for the Dons, Jack Rudoni is still recovering from a concussion and may not be fit for Saturday's game. The only other concern is Ollie Palmer who has only returned to training in recent weeks but won't bw fit enough to be in Glyn Hodges matchday squad. Other than that, Hodges has no other injury concerns.
Both managers are expected to field their teams in a 3-5-2 formation, which can become 5-3-2 when defending.
Steve Arnold, Micheal Harriman, Cian Bolger, Fraser Horsfall, Joseph Mills, Ryan Watson, Christopher Missilou, Morgan Roberts, Matt Warburton, Benny Ashley-Seal, Ricky Korboa.
AFC Wimbledon: Connal Trueman, Luke O'Neill, Will Nightingale, Terell Thomas, Paul Kalambayi, Nesta Guinness-Walker, Alex Woodyard, Anthony Hartigan, Shan McLoughlin, Ryan Longman, Joe Pigott.
Ones to watch
Northampton wing-back Joseph Mills will be a threat to the Dons backline after scoring his first goal for the Cobblers in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday night. Their new man joined in the summer following scoring 12 goals over the course of two seasons whilst being named captain of his former team Forest Green Rovers.
Cobblers forward Ricky Korboa will also be one to watch for the Dons defence. The former Carshalton Athletic man grabbed a goal on his debut last weekend against Cardiff City in the Carabao Cup.
As for the Dons, experienced forward Joe Pigott will be a threat to Northampton. The Englishman is starting his second full season with Wimbledon and has scored an impressive 27 goals for the club in the one and a half seasons he's been with the club.
Midfielder Alex Woodyard will be another one to watch for the Dons. The experienced midfileder will help to keep the Dons midfield ticking in the defensive role he plays, protecting the back four.
The two sides have met just 14 times ahead of Saturday's game, the first dating back to September 2011 where Northampton picked up a three-nil win away from home in a League Two clash.
The record tips heavily in the Cobblers favour who have beaten Wimbledon seven times previously, six games turning out to be draws with the Dons getting the better of Northampton just once.
The sides will meet on Saturday for the first time since February 2018. The match at Kingsmeadow ended in a win for Northampton by three goals to one.
Where to watch
Northampton Town 2020/21 season ticket holders can access the match for free via iFollow, details of how to access the match can be found here.
Cobblers boss Keith Curle is raring to go ahead of the new season and told the Northampton website:
“It’s a fantastic opening game for us,” he said.
“Wimbledon have shown that they can cope at this level and we are looking forward to pitting ourselves against them on Saturday.
“When we came back for the play-offs we were preparing for a sprint but Saturday is the start of a 46 game marathon.
“Win or lose the first game doesn’t dictate where you are going to finish, everyone wants to win that first game but no matter the result on Saturday we will learn from it.
“We don’t shy away from challenges and we don’t shy away from the fact we need to learn, develop and improve.
“The fans are a massive miss for us but everything being done is being done for the safety and wellbeing of everyone. Hopefully the fans can come back soon but only when it’s safe for everybody.”
AFC Wimbldon boss Glyn Hodges has not yet held his pre-match press confrence.