TOWN'S preparations for the crunch trip to Bristol City were thrown into chaos today when Nathan Clarke and Leon Knight were sent home from training feeling ill.
The teenage duo are suffering flu-type symptoms and their immediate absence has heightened problems for manager Lou Macari ahead of Saturday's Ashton Gate clash.
Already without suspended duo Steve Jenkins and Kevin Gray, Macari was shorn of another of his squad regulars last night when son Paul suffered an ankle injury in the Reserves' 1-0 defeat by Wolves at RAF Cosford.
While Adrian Moses looks certain to play on Saturday and Jonathan Dyson steps back into the equation for Town, Macari had already added Nat Brown, Michael Senior and Paul Scott to the travelling party - with at least one of those bound to be on the bench.
Now, with his senior squad stretched to the absolute limit by Clarke and Knight's misfortune, Macari has got his thinking cap on again.
"We were already taking the remainder of what you might call our senior squad - all the ones who are fit and eligible to play - and now Nathan and Leon have been struck down as well," said Macari today.
"It's ridiculous. I don't know whether I've run over a black cat or something, but we don't seem to be getting too many breaks at the moment.
"We will have to wait and see how the two of them are tomorrow, when we are due to travel down to Bristol for training, but it certainly doesn't help with our preparations for what is going to be a very tough match in any case.
"I know the lads who come in will be desperately keen to do well, but we just don't know at the moment who we are going to have available."
Gray's absence will leave goalkeeper Martyn Margetson with the only ever-present record this season. Moses, who made six starts over Christmas and New Year, seems certain to step into central defence, with Thomas Heary deputising at right-back for Jenkins.
If Clarke doesn't make the meeting with Danny Wilson's side - who drew 0-0 at Cambridge in the LDV Southern final first leg last night after Lee Peacock missed a penalty - then Dyson will get the nod as well.
Two of Town's injured players - wingman John Thorrington and midfielder Dwayne Mattis - were back in training today under the supervision of physio Alex Moreno.