STAR striker Andy Booth seems certain to be sidelined for tomorrow's crunch derby against Doncaster at the McAlpine (3.00).
The 30-year-old targetman suffered a hamstring injury in training on New Year's Eve and is struggling to recover in time to face Dave Penney's lively promotion chasers.
With midfielder Tony Carss also rated very doubtful to make a return after knee trouble, it leaves manager Peter Jackson calling all hands to the pumps for a high-profile clash which could attract Town's biggest crowd of the season.
"We will have to wait and assess Andy's injury, but I would have to say he is doubtful at the moment and that is potentially a big blow," said the manager today.
"Boothy has been playing extremely well and I know he was looking forward to the game after scoring when we drew 1-1 at Doncaster earlier in the season.
"Tony Carss is also facing a fitness test and that's disappointing. I had thought he was going to be fit and, with Lee Fowler starting a two-match ban, it would have been ideal, but he is looking doubtful."
Jackson has Nat Brown, fit-again Danny Schofield, loan man Fola Onibuje and John Thorrington as potential replacements for Booth alongside Jon Stead, who will be playing his first match since the month-long transfer window opened yesterday and will be bidding to add to his 15 goals for the campaign.
"We have had no offers for Jon or anybody else so far, but it wouldn't surprise me if there was renewed interest at some stage in Steady," admitted Jackson.
"I watch him in training every day, his progress over the last four or five months has been outstanding and there is no doubt he is a very, very good young player.
"That's why we've had 15 scouts at some of our matches and why we rate him so highly. I don't think there is a better young striker in the country outside the top flight."
Stead will get chance to prove that against a Doncaster side who have won 12 of their last 15 matches in all competitions, stand second in the Division III table and who are expected to bring around 4,000 fans.
Stead wasn't born the last time Doncaster played a League game here in November 1982, when they were defeated 3-0 in what proved to be a promotion season for Town.
"This is a big game and we are really looking forward to it," said Jackson.
"Having just been beaten at Hull, Doncaster will not be relishing the thought of coming here and I hope we don't let them down.
"There should be a big crowd and our fans can really make a difference by getting right behind the lads from start to finish.
"Our excellent home record is one we want to keep going and, if we can finish the holiday games with nine points out of nine it will be a fantastic boost for us."
Efe Sodje will have the key job of marking Leo Fortune-West, although Nathan Clarke is available after suspension and Ian Hughes after injury for a Town side rated slight 6/4 favourites by Ladbrokes.
Doncaster are expected to restore John Doolan to midfield.
Town - Senior, Holdsworth, Lloyd, Clarke, Yates, Sodje, Worthington, Brown, Schofield, Stead, Booth, Thorrington, Onibuje, Edwards, Mattis, Holland, Hughes, Giles, Carss.
Doncaster - Warrington, Marples, Morley, Foster, Ryan, Milligan, Rigoglioso, Ravenhill, McIndoe, Blundell, Fortune-West, Doolan, Albrighton, Hynes, Green, Tierney, Richardson.
Referee - Colin Webster (Wearside).