INJURED Town defender Ian Hughes is highly unlikely to make Saturday's crunch Third Division match at Macclesfield.
And that has handed international ace Efe Sodje a major incentive to impress in tomorrow afternoon's Reserve clash with Walsall at the McAlpine (2.00).
The Nigerian star replaced Hughes at half-time of the goalless draw against Cheltenham after taking a knock the knee.
And now the 31-year-old aims to pip equally experienced teammate Steve Yates to the centre-back vacancy and seal a return to one of his former stomping grounds.
Sodje was handed his big chance in League football by Macclesfield, with then-manager Sammy McIlroy snapping him up from Stevenage Borough as the Cheshire club prepared for their first season in the League in 1997.
And the player became a Moss Rose history maker by netting their first League goal in a memorable 2-1 opening-day victory over Torquay.
With ex-Town star Mark Lillis working as assistant to McIlroy, Macclesfield were promoted at the first attempt, and Sodje was a mainstay of the team alongside striker John Askey, who is now manager.
"I owe a lot to Macclesfield, because they gave me my big chance," said Sodje, who joined Town from Crewe in the summer.
"I had an enjoyable two years there before moving to Luton, and it would be nice to go back and start the game."
The 2002 World Cup star will be putting sentiment to one side, however.
"It's a very big match for us, because drawing our last two games has put us down to 10th in the table, which is no good.
"We should be in the play-off zone at the very least, and everyone knows how poor our away form has been.
"Other than John Askey, who was a good striker, I don't know many of the current squad personally, but I've seen their results since John took over and I know Moss Rose can be a tough ground for visiting teams.
"There's no real explanation for our away form - it's 11 men against 11 after all - and our loyal away support means we seldom face an intimidating atmosphere.
"We all know we have to improve our away results if we are to make a promotion challenge, and with some very important games coming up over Christmas, winning on Saturday would be a big boost."
While Tony Carss is responding well to treatment on an ankle injury picked up against Cheltenham and should be available on Saturday, fellow midfielder Dwayne Mattis is struggling with tendinitis and has been ruled out of tomorrow's Pontins Holiday League second-team game.
Tyrone Thompson will play after recovering from a dead leg, while club captain and left-back Rob Edwards gets more match time as he continues his comeback from a hamstring strain.
Midfielders Chris Holland and Andy Holdsworth and striker Adnan Ahmed continue their returns from injury, while Junior striker John McAliskey gets a run-out alongside loan man Fola Onibuje.
Team: Giles, Booty, Yates, Sodje, Edwards, Holland, Holdsworth, Thompson, Ahmed, Onibuje, McAlliskey. Subs: to be named.