YOUNG Michael Collins could be a surprise starter when Town kick-off the new season at Nottingham Forest.
The 19-year-old midfielder was made captain for last night's 1-1 friendly draw at Wakefield-Emley in which John McAliskey netted Town's equaliser.
Manager Peter Jackson has been impressed with the Republic of Ireland youth cap in pre-season and confirmed today he's giving the strong midfield competition plenty to think about.
"Mikey has been doing really well," said Jackson, who used Lee Fowler as a substitute for the first time since his return from a trial at League II Grimsby.
"He came into the side last season and did ever so well and it was a tribute to how hard he has worked in pre-season that I made him captain for last night's game.
"The thing I like about Mikey is that he never hides in a game. He is always wanting the ball and he always gives everything.
"He is a great example to the other young players coming through the Academy of what can be achieved with plenty of hard work and dedication.
"Mikey knows this is a big season for him and he has worked extremely hard through the summer.
"He has come back fit and strong, he has knuckled down to all the work we've been doing and, at the moment, he looks a very decent player indeed."
While Collins - who made eight League I appearances last term - played the whole match against Paul David's side (who took the lead through James Nestor), Adnan Ahmed completed 67 minutes at the Atlantic Solutions Stadium.
"Adnan has been struggling with a knee injury and is behind the others in terms of pre-season work, but he's a naturally fit lad and he just needs games," said Jackson.
"He'll play again against AFC Emley up at the Welfare Ground on Thursday (7.00) and we'll take things from there."
Jackson, whose side shared the Mick Green Memorial Trophy with their UniBond Premier hosts, was unhappy not to keep a clean sheet.
"We've conceded sloppy goals in Ibiza, at Harrogate Town, Mansfield and now here and it's not acceptable," said Jackson.
"I have said all along that clean sheets get you into play-offs and win you championships and we have to start cutting out the stupid mistakes.
"I know it's only pre-season and you shouldn't read too much into it, but I want good habits at the club and good habits mean not conceding sloppy goals."