LEE CLARK is hoping for a rise in temperature as he plots the return of injured quartet Damien Johnson, Calum Woods, Scott Arfield and Alex Smithies.
The first two, who have had hamstring and ankle problems respectively, could come into contention for Saturday’s home League I clash with Brentford – if they can get onto grass to train.
Midfielder Arfield, who has also had an ankle injury, and highly-rated keeper Smithies, who is well into his rehabilitation following knee surgery, are further away, but still heading in the right direction.
“We’re lucky in having indoor facilities to use when the outside training pitches are frozen, but with the artificial surface being harder, it doesn’t do Damien any favours with his injury history (the on-loan Plymouth man had knee surgery last season),” explained Clark, whose plans for a development match against Sheffield United yesterday were dashed by the cold weather.
“The same goes for the other lads who are on their way back, but as soon as we can get onto grass, they will be back working.
“Damien and Calum have both made good progress over the last few weeks while Scott will hopefully be in contention for the Tranmere game (at Prenton Park on Saturday week).
“As we have said all along with Alex, there will be no rushing him back, but he is ready for some individual work with (goalkeeping coach) John Vaughan, and that’s very encouraging.”
Midfielder Johnson and versatile full-back Woods picked up their injuries in mid-December and haven’t figured in six games.
Arfield picked up his problem during training ahead of the January 6 game at Wycombe which Town won 6-0 and followed up with Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat of Oldham.
Smithies, whose last competitive game was in March, made a failed comeback attempt in pre-season, after which he had a further operation.