Northamptonshire coach David Capel has described his side’s last County Championship match of the season against Gloucestershire as Wantage Road as being “like a final”.
Both sides are among four counties battling for the two promotion places along with Middlesex and Surrey but even a win might not be enough for Northamptonshire if Surrey, who are a point behind, beat Derbyshire at The Oval.
At the half-way stage of the season it appeared that promotion would be a formality for Northamptonshire after they made their best start to a campaign in 25 years. But they lost momentum during a disappointing Friends Life t20 campaign and have now been drawn into an unexpected scrap for a top flight place.
“The players are determined to seal off promotion,” Capel said. “We have played some good cricket this year and we have earned the right to be involved in what is like a final with Gloucestershire also playing for promotion.
“If we want the glory of going up we have got to win and get more points than Surrey do if they beat Derbyshire.”
Northamptonshire will be without batsman Stephen Peters who suffered a bulging disc early in their defeat by Surrey last week. Peters suffered the injury early in that match and was unable to bat in either innings.
Former England one-day international Mal Loye has been recalled for an unexpected final chance to stake a claim for a new contract.
Loye, who returned from Lancashire two years ago, is out of contract at the end of the month and has yet to be offered a new deal.
The Gloucestershire match will also mark the farewell appearance of left-arm seamer David Lucas before he joins Worcestershire for next season.