Cobblers boss Jon Brady is set to make wholesale changes for Tuesday’s Papa John’s Trophy tie against Oxford United.
The competition is at the bottom on the list of Northampton’s priorities this season and Brady will not be taking any risks with his squad, particularly given he’s already without seven players due to injury.
Harvey Lintott, Aaron McGowan, Max Dyche and Shaun McWilliams are among those short on game-time but, even with no league game this weekend due to the international break, several key players will not be involved at Sixfields on Tuesday.
“We’ll respect the competition,” said Brady. “We need to give some players a run-out but we also need to protect some players and it’s important we do that, especially at the top end of the pitch.
"I’ve got to make sure we look after players because the league is the most important thing, but we want to win every game and we’ll approach it properly. We’ll give minutes to players who need minutes and hopefully they’ll come through strongly and that’ll help strengthen the squad.
"We don’t have a game on Saturday and that does impact your thinking a little bit because you need to look ahead. The next game is the most important game, that’s always the approach, and we’ll respect the competition, but our priority is the league.
“We’ll put out the strongest team we can but we also have to make sure we look after the whole group so we’ll be ready for Port Vale. All of that goes into the melting pot and we’ll find a balance.”