THERE was a warning for Rotherham United’s players as the prepared for Northampton Town tonight.
Manager Steve Evans says they can expect their toughest match of the season in terms of the physicality of the opposition.
In the past, sides managed by Cobblers boss Aidy Boothroyd have played a direct, muscular style of football and Evans says he knows what to expect tonight.
“It will be a totally different game from Saturday,” he said. “Burton are a footballing side and we had two outstanding football teams who played some cracking stuff.
“At Northampton, the ball will be in the air a lot; it will be coming into our box from every angle and at every opportunity.
“They have big, physical players, they are strong and, basically, we know what we are going to get.
“In fact, physically, it will be our toughest, most competitive match of the season. Yes, there’ll be times when we come up against better teams and different styles but this is going to be a test.
“Certainly it will tell me a bit more about my players. You are learning all the time but this will tell me about people.
“We have to match up. If we don’t match them physically and we don’t get a strong referee, it can be trouble but I’ve confidence in my players.”
Evans is likely to take the physical strengths of the opposition into account when he gets round to naming his side.
He also said that he is prepared to change his line-up depending on the various challenges ahead - “What the opposition see one game, the personnel, the formation, may not be what we turn up with the next game.”
He explained that the reason behind Kari Arnason moving to centre defence last Saturday was in particular response to Burton’s front two of Billy Kee and Adi Yussuf who had given Sheffield United trouble the previous week: “Kari is outstanding in that position - he plays there for his country - and I’d happily play him there but I brought him to play in midfield,” he said. “I still pinch myself he’s here.”
Northampton opened with a goalless draw at Rochdale having pulled off an excellent 2-1 home win last week in the Capital One Cup over Cardiff City who were runners-up in the competition last season.
They will include former Millers defender Dave Artell who joined from Crewe who he helped to promotion last season.
Up front is the tall Clive Platt, formerly at Rochdale and Coventry. On the bench on Saturday was big Adebayo Akinfenwa who scored the last-gasp equaliser when the teams met in the final game at Don Valley Stadium at the end of last season.
Meanwhile, Evans said Millers fans were ‘owed’ a day like last Saturday.
“For all the down times - the two administrations, the move to Don Valley - their football club owed them a day like that and they responded to make it a day for the town,” he said.
“After sampling that, people will want to go on a regular basis and if this club is to be in League One or The Championship, we need them to come in those numbers and create that type of day again and again.”