ANTON ROBINSON’S hamstring injury isn’t as bad as first feared.
But the newly-recruited midfielder is still set to miss Town’s next three matches, starting with tonight’s Carling Cup first-round tie at Port Vale.
Jordan Rhodes, away on Scotland Under 21 duty, also misses the trip to Burslem, where Town will be attempting to reach round two for the fourth successive season.
Former Bournemouth man Robinson was forced off in the 29th minute of his debut against Bury on Saturday, when Tommy Miller went on.
Oscar Gobern, a starter three days ago, and Scott Arfield are also in contention, although boss Lee Clark may well consider it too soon to field Damien Johnson, who is due for another sharpener in tomorrow’s behind-closed-doors game against Burnley as he returns from last season’s knee ligament surgery.
Clark is giving little away about his team selection for tonight, but is relieved about Robinson, saying: “The news could have been far worse.
“He’s shown quite a bit of improvement, and the latest reports are that he’ll be out for between seven and 10 days.”
While Clark has Lee Novak, Alan Lee and Danny Cadamarteri as frontline options, Vale will be missing their top marksman Marc Richards, who damaged an ankle during Saturday’s 2-2 League II draw at home to Crawley.
Louis Dodds, who came off the bench to score a late leveller, is in line to take his place, and Clark is ready for a tough test.
“I know (Vale manager) Micky Adams of old, and while things didn’t work out for him at Sheffield United, he is back at his spiritual home, and I expect them to do well this season,” he said.
“Having said that, we have had some terrific ties at magnificent stadia in the cups in recent seasons – I’m thinking of Newcastle, Everton and Arsenal – and occasions like those are invaluable both in terms of finance and experience.
“Those can be the rewards for doing the business early on and we’re all up for this game.”
The second-round draw takes place after Thursday’s televised ties between Sheffield Wednesday and Blackpool.
Tonight’s clash will be settled by extra time and penalties if required.