TOWN boss Peter Jackson today received a boost from club captain Rob Edwards, but admitted stand-in skipper Andy Booth is a doubt for Saturday's big Third Division showdown at Mansfield.
Booth is under treatment for a hamstring niggle picked up in the fine 3-1 home win over leaders Hull and faces a race against time to be fit for the clash with the second-placed Stags down at Field Mill.
But absent defender Edwards has confirmed he hopes to be part of Town's play-off planning within the next 10 days, signalling a possible comeback at home to Cheltenham on Saturday week.
The 33-year-old defender has been out for two months with a hamstring injury but is now working hard on the training ground and nearing a return.
The popular left-back accepts there is little chance of him being involved at Mansfield, but he hopes to get 90 minutes in the Reserves at Preston next Monday (7.00) and press immediate claims for a recall.
"I don't think I'd manage 20 minutes the way I feel at the moment, but once I've got another week under my belt and a match or two then hopefully I'll be up for consideration," said Edwards, who hasn't played since the 2-0 defeat at Swansea on September 20.
"Any professional footballer will tell you hate missing matches and I'm no different, although it helps when the lads play as well as they did on Saturday against Hull.
"Usually you are kicking and heading every ball for the lads when you are sitting in the stands, but on Saturday I thought we were first to every second ball and it was a brilliant performance.
"We hadn't been having the best of runs, but I thought the win on Saturday showed the spirit we've got in this club and I was delighted, because we were dangerous going forward and defended superbly."
Edwards expects Town to face a similar sort of challenge at Mansfield, who are the most prolific team in the country thanks to their 2-0 win at Carlisle which took them to 40 goals for the campaign.
"If we could get our away form somewhere near to our outstanding home form then we would finish in the top three, no doubt about it," said Edwards, who has missed 13 matches since his injury.
"We will have to be on our mettle against Mansfield, who are a good footballing side and are scoring a lot of goals at the moment.
"But if we carry forward the performance from the Hull game then hopefully we can be at the start of a good run."
Edwards joined the substitutes and Reserves in a training session at the McAlpine after Saturday's win, when Booth was replaced by John Thorrington after 61 minutes.
"Boothy has done a brilliant job as captain, but that's only what you would expect," added Edwards.
"He is a model professional, he always gives 110% and he loves the club, so it's no surprise that he should do so well."
Midfielder Chris Holland (ankle) and wing-back Andy Holdsworth (back) are also under treatment.