LEE CLARK is optimistic over captain Peter Clarke’s chances of making the League I opener at home to Bury on Saturday week.

The influential 29-year-old was forced put of the friendly win at Dunfermline a week ago by a back injury and missed Friday’s victory at Fleetwood.

There were fears the former Southend, Blackpool and Everton man had aggravated a problem which caused him discomfort during the closing stages of last season.

But boss Clark, who has loaned teenage midfielder Chris Atkinson to Darlington, said: “Pete jarred his back when he landed awkwardly after making a challenge early in the game.

“We think it’s a straightforward impact injury and while Pete wanted to carry on, we took him off as a precaution, because at this stage, it’s pointless taking chances.”

Clarke, Town’s player of the year in both his seasons at the club, hasn’t missed a match through injury since moving from Roots Hall.

And he’ll be desperate to make Town’s first competitive meeting with Bury since the 2003-04 League II campaign.

Town have one more senior friendly remaining, against Rotherham at the Don Valley Stadium on Saturday.

Clark sends a development side to non-league Eastwood Town, who are co-managed by former Town defender Craig Armstrong, on Thursday.

Atkinson, 19, will be at Blue Square Premier club Darlington until January.