TOWN manager Peter Jackson has reassured out-of-favour left-backs Rob Edwards and Anthony Lloyd: "You're still part of my plans."
Jackson was disappointed with the display of club captain Edwards in the 2-1 League I win at home to Port Vale on Boxing Day and Lloyd's showing in the 2-1 New Year's Day loss at Hull.
He played central defender David Mirfin at left-back in the 2-2 home draw with Bristol City eight days ago, and when he was forced off just nine minutes into the match after aggravating a thigh injury, switched Andrew Holdsworth from right-back.
After Jackson failed in a bid to sign a left-back on loan last week, Holdsworth remained in the position for Saturday's 1-1 Galpharm Stadium stalemate with Torquay.
Edwards, 34, and 20-year-old Lloyd, a regular at left-back as Town won promotion last season, appear to be in limbo.
But Jackson, who is continuing in his bid to bring in fresh faces ahead of Saturday's derby trip to Barnsley, insisted: "Both players remain valuable members of my squad."
Having handed Edwards 14 starts and two outings from the bench and Lloyd 13 starts, he explained: "Rob had the left-back shirt at the start of the season because he had been playing well in the build-up, and when he was injured, Lloydy took over.
"He then had a decent run in the side, but I felt he lost form, and Rob came back in for a spell.
"All players are off their game from time to time, and it so happens that both Rob and Lloydy are in that situation now.
"I was pleased with big Dave Mirfin when he played left-back down at Bournemouth (when he scored in a 2-2 draw), and while the thigh injury kept him out at Hull, when Lloydy came back in, I thought Mirf deserved another chance against Bristol City.
"Unfortunately the thigh strain was aggravated, but Andy Holdsworth moved across and did a good job, and I thought playing Nat Brown at right-back and Andy on the left worked well against Torquay too.
"Dealing with being left out of the team is part and parcel of football and even though they are opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of age and experience, the reaction of both Rob and Lloydy has been just what I would have wanted.
"It's about getting your head down, working hard on the training ground and showing you deserve another chance."
Both Edwards and Lloyd will get the opportunity to catch Jackson's eye when Town Reserves host Grimsby tomorrow (2.00).
It's the first game of 2005 for John Dungworth's second string, who will be seeking a third successive win after beating Lincoln 4-0 at the Galpharm and Halifax 2-1 at The Shay before Christmas.
Jackson was planning to take in two matches today as he runs the rule over potential signings.