NATHAN CLARKE will step up his bid for a first-team return by playing in Town's friendly at Bradford Park Avenue tomorrow (7.30).
It will be the 22-year-old's first outing since the Johnstone's Paint Trophy first-round clash with Doncaster, when he came in for fans' criticism during and after a 2-1 defeat.
Clarke, pictured left, was dropped for the League I trip to Port Vale, when Town won 2-1 with Martin McIntosh and John McCombe the centre-backs.
That pair were also on duty for Saturday's 3-0 home setback against Brighton, when Clarke was on the bench but not brought on.
A highly disappointing result which left Town in ninth position could lead to changes and Clarke, never previously dropped under Peter Jackson, will be desperate to clinch a return for Saturday's crunch home clash with third-placed Scunthorpe.
"My selection for Saturday will hinge on the Park Avenue match and what happens on the training pitch between now and then," explained Jackson, who was today putting recovering trio Andy Holdsworth, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and David Mirfin through their paces at Storthes Hall before deciding whether to play them tomorrow.
Right-back Holdsworth (right) has missed three matches with an ankle injury, midfielder Taylor-Fletcher four with a knee problem and centre-back Mirfin six with a thigh strain.
"Nathan, whose response to being rested against Port Vale has been excellent, will certainly play tomorrow and I'm confident Andy Holdsworth will also figure," said Jackson.
"Fletch is probably five days ahead of schedule in his recovery and Mirf is coming on, but I want to see how they respond to further training before deciding whether they will play."
UniBond League First Division side Avenue were 3-1 home winners over Yorkshire Amateur in the West Riding Cup last night.