TOWN are delighted with the results of Nathan Clarke's ankle operation.
The 20-year-old defender had successful surgery yesterday and will start his full rehabilitation in just four weeks.
It means he could be an outside contender for the play-offs should Town be involved, although manager Peter Jackson is aiming to build on top place in the form table by steering his squad into the first three automatic promotion places.
Rivals are in action tonight, with Town hoping Mansfield and Torquay draw at Field Mill, while Jackson has kept his own players fresh with a practice match at Storthes Hall.
"Nathan Clarke's operation went really well and he'll be in pot for only a couple of weeks," said Jackson today.
"The surgeon revealed there had been no complications, he has re-attached the tendon to the bone and, if he takes things easy for a fortnight when he comes out of pot, then Nathan will start his rehab straight away.
"That's really good news, because he was playing superbly well when he got the injury and it's a big disappointment that he's got to miss out on the run-in."
While Clarke has been replaced in the starting line-up by teenager David Mirfin, Jackson was keen today to praise the elder statesmen of his promotion-chasing side.
"I have given a lot of praise to the youngsters this season, but it helps the likes of Mirfin to have experienced players around and I can't speak highly enough of Efe Sodje, Steve Yates and Andy Booth.
"All three were magnificent against Swansea and they lead by example in the dressing room as well, where I think the young lads are impressed by how motivated they are.
"They are really `up' for every match and it spreads to the rest of the squad.
"These lads have been around long enough to know what a promotion chase means, and they realise it doesn't come around all that often, so you have to make the most of the opportunity when it comes along."
Interest is soaring, and Town have sold over 600 tickets for the match at Hull on April 24 since the final whistle on Saturday.
A total of 2,553 Town fans have already bought seats at the KC Stadium, leaving the club with only 818 to sell.
Town have asked Hull for an additional allocation, but fans are advised to buy quickly.
"The promotion race is all about what we do, but if we get a helping hand along the way then so much the better," said Jackson, hoping Macclesfield beat Lincoln tonight and Rochdale fell leaders Doncaster at Spotland.
"If Mansfield and Torquay draw tonight and Boston do us a favour by beating Hull down at York Street tomorrow, then I won't be having any complaints."
Midfielder Adnan Ahmed was due to have a double hernia operation today but the surgery has been put back to next Tuesday.
Town fans Chris Chadwick and Zoe Davison, injured when advertising boards blew down at Northampton, will be VIP guests at the Mac for the Scunthorpe match on April 17.