JOHN THORRINGTON and Andy Booth were the men under the microscope at the McAlpine today as boss Peter Jackson began the countdown to the vital Third Division visit of Cheltenham on Saturday.
American winger Thorrington was in the treatment room having a check-up after feeling pain in his left ankle during last night's 3-0 friendly win over UniBond League club Harrogate Town at Wetherby Road.
The 24-year-old, who had surgery on the joint two and a half months ago, came off after 57 minutes of a lively match settled by goals from on-loan Preston player Fola Onibuje (17 minutes) and fellow teenage frontmen John McAliskey (77) and Adnan Ahmed (80).
"We brought him off as a precaution, and hopefully it was just a little reaction to what was a good work-out for all the lads coming back from injury or suspension," explained Jackson.
While centre-back Efe Sodje was forced to attend a nearby hospital for four stitches in a lip wound sustained late in the first half - the injury shouldn't affect his availability for Saturday - club captain and left-back Rob Edwards (hamstring) and centre-back Steve Yates (suspension) both came through the full 90 minutes to stake their claims for Saturday's game.
Jackson is also hoping to have Booth available to resume his partnership with Jon Stead, who seems unlikely to be the subject of any further interest from Nottingham Forest after the First Division club completed a £1m move for Gillingham striker Marlon King late yesterday.
While Stead struck twice in the 3-3 draw at Mansfield on Saturday, Booth missed the match with a hamstring niggle.
"You always have to take care in these situations, but Andy has been training well so far this week and all things being equal, should come into the equation for what will be a tough game against Cheltenham," said Jackson, whose 10th-placed side face a fortnight without a match after Saturday because of their FA Cup elimination at Accrington.
Jackson will also consider Onibuje after the 6ft 7in 19-year-old produced a lively performance at Harrogate.
"He's come over here desperate to impress and he made a good start with a well-taken goal and a bright display," said the boss.
"He's clearly a danger in the air - both in terms of flick-ons and finishing - if you can give him the correct kind of service and for a big lad, he's got very quick and skilful feet.
"I was pleased with his performance and I was pleased that the likes of Robbie Edwards, Steve Yates, Andy Holdsworth, Dwayne Mattis and Chris Holland all got valuable game time under their belts.
"The Thorrington situation is a setback, but otherwise is was a very worthwhile exercise."
The Survival Trust stage their Grand Auction of Town memorabilia at the McAlpine tonight (£2 entry with catalogue for a 7.30 start).
Among the most sought-after lots will be a ball signed by the 1995 promotion-winning Town side, including a letter from the manager, Neil Warnock.
Meanwhile one of that team, defender Tom Cowan, is seeking a new club after being shown the door at Dundee in the wake of administration.
Fabrizio Ravanelli and Craig Burley were also among the 25 players and staff sacked as the Scottish club attempt to curb spiralling debts of £20m.