Mansfield Town head to crisis club Northampton Town for a top six showdown on Saturday with boss Adam Murray hoping his former Oxford manager Chris Wilder’s club get out of the financial mess they are in.
The Cobblers are in liquidation and face a winding-up petition on Monday.
They also needed their wages paying by the PFA this month, but the turmoil seems to have had little effect on the pitch, the side sitting fifth in the table and enjoying an away FA Cup win at Coventry City last weekend.
“They are an excellent side,” said Murray.
“They were exceptional at Coventry with a really disciplined performance and they are flying at the minute. They are a team in form and deserve to be where they are in the league.
“They are a very attacking team and create a lot of chances. They have a lot of very good players, so it will be a tough test for us.
“I know their manager very well. I had him as a manager and he is a good guy. He is someone I speak to quite regularly and I enjoyed playing for him as a manager. His teams are always organised and play in exciting ways.”
Murray added: “We are looking forward to it. I think it will be a good game. We will have to be disciplined. Our away performances and results have been good, so we go there with confidence.”
Stags will be boosted by the return of centre half Krystian Pearce after a four-game ban.
That was expected to give Murray a headache with Ryan Tafazolli and Lee Collins superb in Pearce’s absence.
However, Murray hinted he is considering a change in line-up and could go with all three centre backs.
“We will have to be on our mettle and it may be an opportunity for us to have a look at something,” he said.
“It’s the first time we’ve had our three centre halves fully fit, so with Pearcy back it gives us the chance to get two targets up there and maybe pin them back a little bit.
“Lee has come in and done what we expected him to do. He is a top player and probably one of the best centre halves at this level, so he has come in and carried the mantle.
“But before that Pearcey was on fire, then had a bit of bad luck missing the four games. So this is a good opportunity for him to get his legs going again.
“This is a game I think we might need two targets up there so with the three in there it might give us an option to try something different. Building into Oldham that is something I think might affect them. We will have a look at it this week, but we do have options.
“Defensively we have been tremendous, from Brian Jensen all the way through to the front men, it’s not just a back four thing. We defend from the front.”
He added: “It’s another new challenge and a top six clash which I think if we’d have said at the end of last season, everyone would have laughed at us. We are up there on merit, but it’s important we keep doing the basics and stick in there.”
With so much going on off the field for the Cobblers, did Murray think was a good time to face Northampton?
“It is probably the worst time,” he said. “These things are always tricky.
“I have had it once in my career when you don’t know if you are getting paid. You don’t know what’s round the corner. Playing would be lying if they said it doesn’t affect you.
“You are going into an environment where you are thinking what if this does go pear-shaped? What if I get injured, what’s going to happen then? What if my contract stops?
“So it’s a two-fold thing. There is a lot of anxiety around the situation, but it can bring you together.
“So for them it’s working at the minute and I know Chris will have them all pulling in the same direction and for the sake of football and, from my point of view, for the sake of Chris, I hope it gets worked out.
“At the end of the day they are a very good team and what goes on off the pitch shouldn’t affect the good work they are doing as a football club on the green stuff.
“I don’t think it will make it any easier for us. If anything I think it will have the reverse affect though, at the end of the day, it’s 11 v 11.”