TOUGH defender Martin McIntosh was today aiming to hand Town boss Peter Jackson an early Christmas present.
The rugged Scottish centre-back, who hasn't played a first-team game since August because of a knee injury which needed surgery, was due to play against Barnsley Reserves at Oakwell.
And a successful outing could pitch him into contention for Saturday's crucial home clash with fellow League I frontrunners Southend United.
Midfielder Adnan Ahmed, also returning after a knee problem, versatile Tony Carss and striker John McAliskey were also on the teamsheet for this afternoon's Pontin's Holidays League Division I Central game.
But the main focus was on McIntosh, the summer signing from Rotherham who has been restricted to just five senior appearances.
The 34-year-old, a Tottenham trainee who later played for St Mirren, Clydebank, Hamilton, Stockport and Hibernian before his four-season stint at Rotherham, made an abortive comeback bid last month.
He figured in a specially-arranged friendly against Silsden, but lasted only 56 minutes before coming off and having an ice pack attached to his left knee.
"That was a setback for Martin, but he's been back in training for a couple of weeks now and he's been getting stronger all the time," reported Jackson, who handed Ahmed a first appearance of the season as a substitute in Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Bristol City.
"It was a big boost to see Adnan come on down at Bristol, and now we want a similar lift from Martin.
"He was going well at the start of the season, and it's been frustrating not to be able to call on his experience.
"Hopefully his injury problems are behind him, and it would be great if he could be available for what is a very busy period over Christmas and New Year."
After Saturday's meeting with fifth-placed Southend, Town, who are second, have games against Rotherham (away on Boxing Day), Port Vale (home on Wednesday, December 28), Barnsley (away on New Year's Eve) and Gillingham (home on Monday, January 2).
Tickets for the Rotherham game, which kicks off at 12.30, go on general sale after Saturday's game.
They cost £15 adults and £9 concessions.
It's pay on the day at Barnsley, when kick-off is 3.00.
Town are running Travel Club coaches to the all-ticket FA Cup third-round tie at Chelsea on Saturday, January 7.
They will leave the Galpharm at 8.30am. The cost of travel is £16.00 for members and £18.50 for non-members.