TOWN manager Peter Jackson is ready to hand young Andrew Holdsworth a full McAlpine debut against Northampton on Saturday.
The 19-year-old went on as a substitute against Bristol Rovers and made his first League start in the 2-1 defeat by Bury.
Jackson, still stung by that result and targeting a win against Martin Smith and Co, believes Holdsworth has done enough to keep the shirt.
"Andrew was very unfortunate to get brought off at Gigg Lane, but I had to change things when Efe Sodje got sent off," said Jackson, who yesterday watched the 3-3 Reserves draw between Sunderland and Blackburn.
"He has had an amazing rise to the top because, due to injuries in the past, he has played only three Reserve games and has gone virtually straight from the Academy into the first team and has not let anyone down.
"He has deserved it, he is in the team on merit and he has certainly got a strong case for starting again on Saturday."
Back from a stress fracture, Holdsworth (pictured) is likely to stay on the righthand side of midfield in a match which Jackson realises is of major importance, not just to get Town up the table but to lift confidence among fans.
"Andrew came more and more into the game last week and I don't think there's any doubt he's going to be a good little player," said Jackson.
"We are starting detailed preparations today with Andy Booth back in the full training squad and we are going to be up and at 'em.
"After the disappointment against Bury, it's vital we start the game well and get our noses in front, because that lifts everyone.
"When we got in front against Bristol Rovers I never felt threatened at all and it will be a big help if we can put Northampton on the back foot as early as possible."
Ex-Town trialist Ashley Westwood is playing midfield for the Cobblers at the moment while two-goal Smith is playing up front.
"We have watched them three times and we already know we can't give Martin any time or space, or we will get punished" he said.
"I was disappointed when he left us, but we made him the best offer we possibly could and he got a better one from Northampton.
"They are the biggest investors in the division but, like ourselves, they have been a bit up and down so far and we need to make sure they suffer another down.
"We could easily have had 10 or 12 points by now and a run of three or four wins will take us right up the table, so we'll be looking to seize the initiative on Saturday."
* Ex-Leeds and Scotland star Eddie Gray is guest of the Gentlemen's Sporting club on Monday (£12 inc supper).