TALENTED Town defender Nathan Clarke has been ruled out for two to four weeks.
The 21-year-old - who trained only one day last week - suffered a recurrence of a groin injury and was taken off at half time in the defeat at Barnsley.
Clarke will now have to rest and will definitely miss Saturday's home meeting with Bournemouth, when Town are bidding for a first win since Boxing Day.
A further complication for manager Peter Jackson is that Andy Holdsworth and Tony Carss are both having scans on Thursday to assess potential hernia injuries.
They have not been ruled out of the Bournemouth match at this stage, but Clarke also seems certain to miss the following week's trip to Walsall and will hope to be fit for the visit of leaders Luton Town to the Galpharm Stadium on Saturday, February 5.
"Nathan has a slight tear in his groin and we'll have to see how he recovers," confirmed Jackson today.
"At the moment, we are hoping he'll be fit again in a couple of weeks, but it's a two to four-week thing.
"With Andy and Tony, we'll have to wait for the results of the scans. They've both got possible hernia problems, but we need to know the extent."
Brighter news is that David Mirfin has started stepping up his training after a thigh injury and that John McCombe is fit to play in tomorrow's Reserve Cup-tie against Rochdale at Rossendale (2.00, weather permitting).
Lee Fowler, Andy Booth and Rob Edwards will not be risked in that fixture ahead of the important Bournemouth game, while Jackson continues his search for a possible new recruit in defence.
"I've made a few phone calls and I'm going to games, but we also have alternatives for the centre of defence in John McCombe, Steve Yates and Nat Brown, so we'll see how things develop," he said.
Town's following at Barnsley was almost 3,000, being confirmed at 2,913.