Michael Boulding makes his first start for seven weeks ready to show he still has a big part to play in City’s season.

With Gareth Evans banned, Boulding will be thrust into the starting line-up at Sixfields.

The experienced marksman has been desperate to get going and has grown frustrated with a bench-warming role while Stuart McCall has stuck with an Evans and James Hanson partnership.

McCall said: “The lads out the side at the moment realise the boys who’ve got the jersey are doing well, so they’ve got to be patient, while training as hard as they can and playing well in the reserves.

“Boulders has been looking sharp and waiting in the wings for his chance. Obviously we didn’t want it to come this way but it has arisen now and I’m sure he’ll be looking to take it with both hands.”

But fit-again right back Simon Ramsden may have to settle for a substitute spot because of the form of Jon Bateson.

Ramsden is not complaining, with City having clocked up back-to-back clean sheets in his absence.

He said: “The lads are playing with lots of confidence and I’m going to have to bide my time.

“We’ve got a team full of people with things to prove. Whether it be the lads who’ve come out of non-league or ones just signed in the summer, everybody out there is very self-motivated.

“I’ve been at clubs in the past where people need a boot up the backside to get them going but everyone in this side is working for one another and it’s great to be involved.”

McCall is giving nothing away but has been impressed with the way Bateson has fitted in.

The City chief said: “We worked on a way to get at Morecambe the other night and Jonny was a key factor with his foraging runs. He played really well.

“Jonny has done himself no harm every time he has come in to the side. We plucked him from Blackburn for peanuts and he’s shown a great attitude.”

Northampton snapped a five-game losing run when they shocked Rotherham on Tuesday night. And McCall admitted he was slightly relieved to see them end the slump before City’s arrival.

He added: “It might have been a good thing because we haven’t got that hanging over us.

“I don’t know too much about them but I’m sure they’ll have more of a spring in their step than if they’d lost six on the bounce. But the way we’re playing right now, I’d back us against anyone.

“We know there will be times in the season when things don’t go well. That will be a test for us again as a young squad but we’re learning all the time and I’m really happy.”

City reluctantly decided not to appeal against Evans’ red card because they were not convinced about getting a fair hearing.

McCall backed Gillingham midfielder Mark Bentley’s attempt to overrule his sending-off at Valley Parade last season. But a letter on his behalf failed and the player’s ban was increased by a game.

McCall said: “It’s very, very rare that they will overturn it. And obviously with the reputation of the referee (Stuart Attwell) over the last couple of seasons, I don’t think they will go against him again."