CHRIS ATKINSON could follow Jimmy Spencer out on loan as Town manager Lee Clark tries to get first-team experience for his top prospects.

The Galpharm club and League II Cheltenham are putting the finishing touches to a six-month loan switch for striker Spencer.

And Clark, whose side have a friendly at Fleetwood tonight (7.30), is keen for his fellow 19-year-old Atkinson to play elsewhere, explaining: “I believe he would really benefit.”

While Spencer spent last season on loan to Morecambe, scoring eight times, midfielder Atkinson – who featured in last night’s 2-1 friendly defeat at AFC Emley – stayed with Town, making two starts and one appearance from the bench.

“The competition here is tough, and I’d like Jimmy and Chris to go out and play matches then return in January and stake a claim,” added Clark.

“Jack Hunt did that last season after coming back from Chesterfield, and Jimmy and Chris are both capable of doing the same.”

Spencer, who has also had a loan spell at non-league Northwich, has yet to make a competitive first-team appearance for Town, but was recently handed a two-year contract extension, keeping him to the club until 2015. Atkinson is under contract to 2013.

Neither skipper Peter Clarke, who suffered a jarred back during Tuesday’s friendly win at Dunfermline, nor recent signing Damien Johnson are likely to figure against Fleetwood, of the Blue Square Premier.

Football League clubs have agreed a reduction to five substitutes, three of which can be used, next season.

The Galpharm was one of three venues for League Managers’ Association meetings yesterday.