The league is Ash Eastham’s priority as he prepares to welcome his old club Rochdale to Highbury in the Checkatrade Trophy tonight, though he believes the game represents a big opportunity for young players.
Town lost a penalty shoot-out to Leicester U21s in their first group game last month.
Eastham says young players can stake their claim tonight in a bid to emulate Nathan Sheron, who has started Town’s last two League One games alongside him in defence.
The 27-year-old said: “There is no doubt our bread and butter is the league. That will determine whether we have a successful season.
“But with the injuries we have had, we have been able to keep fringe players ready and they have stepped up.
“Look at Nathan Sheron’s performances in the last two games. He has been fantastic and that is down to him featuring in games like Tuesday’s.
“Everyone needs to be ready. We want to proceed in that cup but also make sure the squad is ready.”
Eastham scored his first goal of the season in Saturday’s 4-0 win at Doncaster Rovers and believes Town are capable of challenging at the top.
He said: “Doncaster have been brilliant this season but we don’t get fazed by that because we know how ruthless we can be. Effectively we have four strikers on the pitch at the start of the game and we know we can score goals.
“Getting that clean sheet was really pleasing against a side who will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.
“It was great to win on the road but we won’t get carried away. We started the season really well and were in a great spot after six or seven games.
“But for various reasons it has not been easy for the manager to put a consistent 11 out, which does affect performances and combinations.
“Sometimes you are unfortunate with injuries, but if we can keep the lads fit going forward I truly believe we have a squad that can compete at the top end of the table.”