PETER JACKSON has ruled David Mirfin out of Saturday's big derby at Bradford - but backed Nathan Clarke to come through his bad patch.
Centre-back Mirfin will miss the lunchtime match-up at Valley Parade (kick-off is 1.00 and it's all-ticket for Town fans) because of a thigh injury.
That means Clarke is in line to retain his place alongside Martin McIntosh, despite a below-par performance in Saturday's 2-2 draw at home to AFC Bournemouth.
"Mirf took a knock during the Tranmere match then felt the muscle go when he struck a ball during training last Friday," explained Jackson, who expects striker Andy Booth to be available after illness and is hopeful Danny Schofield will recover from a groin problem picked up at Tranmere.
"At this stage Mirf's having some treatment and ice baths, and we've got to be careful, because a similar injury last season kept him out six weeks."
Having missed Town's 2-1 win at Swansea because of an ankle injury and been on the bench at Tranmere, where it finished 2-2, Clarke returned against Bournemouth.
But he failed to reproduce the kind of form he showed last season, and Jackson admitted: "Nathan is going through a bit of a bad time. He has set a very high standard over recent seasons and as a very honest player, he would be the first to admit he's not reaching it at the moment.
"Perhaps his confidence has dipped a bit, but he's far too good a player to become bad overnight and I've got full confidence in him."
Bradford, who are fourth to Town's 17th after Saturday's 2-0 home win over Tranmere, have an injury worry of their own. It surrounds Jamaican paceman Jermaine Johnson, who limped off after 13 minutes with a hamstring strain.
It's likely former trainee Joe Colbeck, who came on against Tranmere, will stay in the starting XI should Johnson be ruled out.