FIRED-UP Peter Jackson is backing Andy Booth to close in on his century of club goals and fire Town back up the table this Christmas.
The 30-year-old frontman goes into tomorrow's McAlpine clash with leaders Oxford United (3.00) with 95 goals to his name in blue and white stripes.
It is the first of four crucial holiday fixtures, so Booth could be a lot closer to becoming only the fifth player in Town history to hit three figures by the time 2004 is a week old.
Jackson will keep changes to a minimum against Oxford, who are a big, uncompromising team of experienced professionals who have lost only once all season.
Booth will have a major role to play at both ends of the pitch - Oxford are very dangerous at set pieces - but Jackson is confident the 30-year-old can handle it and help Town get back on track.
"Boothy's record is tremendous and he's playing pretty well at the moment, so he's capable of hitting that landmark sooner rather than later," said Jackson, who will ask all his fit squad members to report tomorrow.
"Only four other players have scored 100 for the club, which shows the enormity of the achievement, but he makes an excellent all-round contribution to the team and is a key at our defensive set-pieces.
"It's not just about Boothy tomorrow, though, because we need a vast improvement from everyone on the pitch.
"We are at home, it's important we get after Oxford and there's no doubt we've got the ability to beat them, we've just got to put last Saturday behind us and go out and show it."
For the first time this season, Town are not rated as favourites on their own patch.
Jackson's side are a 6/4 shot to win and, even though Town have won seven and drawn one of their last eight home matches, Oxford get the nod at 11/8 to take all three points.
Visiting manager Ian Atkins could include centre-back Matt Bound in his 3-5-2 formation to combat the height of Booth and Jon Stead, who will also be keen to win the shoot-out with Oxford's 11-goal Steve Basham.
On the Saturday before Christmas, attendances are traditionally low, but Jackson is hoping the Quid a Kid offer - it's just £1 entry for Under 16s at the McAlpine tomorrow - will help bump up the crowd.
"It would be superb to go into Christmas with three points under our belt and the fans have a big part to play in that - so I would ask as many as possible to come down tomorrow and make a tremendous atmosphere," added Jackson.
"It's a big game for the club in which we've got seven senior players unavailable through injury, so we all need to be pulling in the same direction to get the result we desperately want.
"I'm sure we can score, so a clean sheet is the first target and we'll take it from there. I know some of the fans are moaning at the moment, but we are on the verge of the play-off places with half a season to go, and we need our fans now more than ever.
"We have had a good week on the training ground and now we want to see that reflected on the pitch. I'm very positive about the game and, as long as we all stick together, we will be fine."
Tony Carss' knee scan revealed no cartilage damage, but he has to rest for two weeks and will miss the holiday fixtures, aiming to make his return for the trip to Cambridge on January 10.
"It's great news, really, because we feared that Tony might have to face a much longer spell on the sidelines," explained Jackson.
"The specialist is happy that a couple of weeks of rest will do the trick, so we will take things from there in the New Year."
Town(from): Senior, Brown, Lloyd, Clarke, Scott, Sodje, Yates, Fowler, Edwards, Schofield, Booth, Stead, Ahmed, Holdsworth, Onibuje, Holland, Mattis, Martin.
Oxford (probable): Woodman, Crosby, McCarthy, Bound, McNiven, Hunt, Whitehead, Wanless, Robinson, Alsop, Basham. Subs from: Louis, Ashton, Steele, Brown, Hackett, Rawle.
Ref: Roy Pearson (Durham).