Milton Keynes Dons take on local rivals Northampton Town tonight in the opening round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Off the back of a comfortable 2-0 victory over Carlisle United on the weekend, the Dons will be looking to avoid upset against the League Two side and progress further in a competition that they won in 2008.
Aidy Boothroyd’s Cobblers side have made a reasonable start to their campaign, picking up five points from their opening four games but the Dons will be fully aware of the challenge they face at Sixfields stadium this evening.
One person aware of the challenge but eagerly looking forward to the game is Dons’ assistant manager Mick Harford who, like the Dons, has a history in this competition.
Speaking prior to the game, he said: ““I had success at Luton in the JPT and obviously MK Dons had success at Wembley.
“Some people see the competition as a bit of a bane but I see it as another opportunity for players to get to Wembley, a lot of players don’t get the opportunity to play at Wembley so it is a game we will be approaching in a professional manner. We will be putting out the strongest team possible and hopefully we’ll get through to the next round."
Suspended duo Antony Kay and Alan Smith look set to play a part as Harford revealed a number of players who have played consistently from the start of the season could be handed a well-earned rest, although competition rules dictate teams to field six of the last starting XI players.
Kay and Smith, who were shown straight red cards against Oldham Athletic and AFC Bournemouth respectively, have both served their punishment and will be itching to play apart in this Trophy opener.
Another man pushing for a place in the starting line-up is Jimmy Bullard, who made his debut from the bench in Saturday’s win over Carlisle United, the midfielder will be hoping he did enough in the 20 minutes to warrant a place in the side.
Northampton Town may also take the opportunity to rest a few players with tonight’s clash being their third game in six days.
Dean Snedker will be pushing for a start between the sticks ahead of Lee Nicholls after his assured performance against Wolves last Thursday.
Former Dons Clive Platt and Ben Harding will also be looking to play some part but the former may face competition from Adebayo Akinfenwa for the lone striker role.
One player in eager for a game is Ishmel Demontagnac whose lively performance after coming on as a second-half substitute against Plymouth Argyle on Saturday may have earned him a first start in Northampton colours.