TOM CLARKE is ready to turn the screw in the push for a first-team place as Town chase promotion to the Championship.
The versatile 23-year-old’s season has been interrupted by injuries, but he’s back to fitness and eager to play his part over the final seven games.
Boss Lee Clark has made it clear that all his squad have a role as second-placed Town strive to stretch an unbeaten League I run which sits at 18 matches.
Yesterday’s behind-closed-doors work-out at Sheffield United provided a chance for Clarke to stake his claim for a first outing in nine at Tranmere on Saturday.
And the club academy product, who suffered a knee injury during last season’s play-offs and is now fit again after an ankle problem, said: “I’m pushing as hard as I can.
“It’s tough with the quality we have at the club, but it’s a case of focusing on every training session and making sure that if the call comes, I’m ready.”
While elder brother Nathan has been loaned to League I rivals Colchester, Clarke is desperate to do his bit at the Galpharm.
“I love being at this club and being around the lads,” said the ex-England junior international who has been on the bench in six of the last eight games.
“We know there’s a lot of football still to be played, and a lot of hard work to get through, but we’re all optimistic about our chances.”
Town are plotting a fifth win in six games at Tranmere, and could have Rovers old boy Antony Kay (ankle) and experienced left-back Gary Naysmith (knee) available.
Keeper Alex Smithies remains under treatment for his knee injury with boss Clark explaining: “A scan showed some swelling around his previous problem.”
Tranmere boss Les Parry has defensive concerns in the wake of Monday’s 0-0 draw at Oldham.
Rugged Ian Goodison is out after picking up a 10th caution and therefore a two-match ban while fellow centre-back Mark McChrystal, a former Town trialist, has a hamstring problem.
Forward Andy Robinson’s groin problem makes him a doubt for a game which will be refereed by Lincolnshire’s Gary Sutton.