LEE CLARK is hoping Benik Afobe will be “fit and firing” by the time Town play in the fourth round of the FA Cup on the weekend of January 29/30.
The Galpharm manager confirmed after the third-round defeat of Dover that the 17-year-old England junior striker’s loan from Arsenal has been extended until the end of the season.
Clark will now try to complete the same agreement with Celtic for Graham Carey, whose initial loan ends after tomorrow’s League I home clash with Plymouth.
While Carey made his 25th appearance for the club as a substitute against Dover, Afobe was ruled out by a knee injury, and faces another couple of weeks on the sidelines.
“It’s a shame that he’s got this knee irritation, but it’s not too much of a worry, and we’re optimistic he’ll be fit and firing again in a couple of weeks,” said Clark.
“We’re delighted that Benik is staying with us, and we’re in contact with Celtic, because we’d like to keep Graham as well.”
Plymouth might have lost 3-0 at Bournemouth in a League I game on Saturday, but Clark is predicting a tough test against a side managed by his old Sunderland boss Peter Reid.
And he believes the way his side defeated dogged Dover will help them over the remainder of this season.
“Every manager wants 90 minutes of perfection every match, but it doesn’t always work out that way,” added Clark.
“Sometimes you have to win matches when not at your best. We did that against Dover and it’s the kind of victory that will stand us in good stead.
“We did a lot of good things, but there are other areas we have to work on, and we’ll do that.”
Town got off to a flying start with goals by Scott Arfield in the seventh minute and Gary Roberts in the eighth.
Clark commented: “We started really well, and our attitude, desire and determination brought us two terrific goals and put us in a good position.
“We couldn’t carry it on, and I’m disappointed about that.
“But you have to give credit to Dover, because the players fought like tigers for their club. From start to finish they were snapping at our heels, and it took a terrific late save by Alex Smithies to stop them scoring.
“We created chances, we scored twice and we kept a clean sheet, and at the end of the day, cup football is all about winning and getting through to the next round and we’ve done that.
“That’s a draw and two wins in 2011 now, and we want to maintain that momentum against Plymouth.
“In a way we owe them one, because we lost (2-1) down there when we felt it was a game we should have picked something up from.”