NEAL TROTMAN admits he doesn’t want to see Oldham go down but says: “Helping Town win promotion is far more important.”

The on-loan Preston centre-back goes head to head with the club who gave him his big break into league football at the Galpharm tonight (7.45).

It’s a high-stakes Pennine derby for both parties, with Town eager to cement their top-six billing in League I – Colchester’s 2-1 home defeat by Millwall yesterday handing Lee Clark’s side the chance to open up a three point lead over the Essex club – and Oldham desperate for victory as they battle to avoid dropping into the basement division for the first time since 1971.

“Oldham mean a lot to me because they’ve been a big part of my life,” said Trotman, who was picked up by the Latics as a teenager after being released by Burnley and made 24 appearances for them before a £500,000 switch to Preston in January 2008.

“They gave me my start in senior professional football, I still keep in touch with some of the players and staff and I’m sad to see them at the wrong end of the table.

“I really hope they can avoid relegation – but I’m still desperate to beat them tonight, because I want to help Town to the play-offs.” Trotman, who made his 14th Town appearance in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Wycombe, helped Southampton beat Oldham 3-1 in October.

“Coming up against your former club is part and parcel of the game, and it will be business a usual for me tonight,” pledged the 23-year-old.

“We’re all eager to build on what was a deserved win at Wycombe, when all the players made important contributions.

“The goal we gave away was quite sloppy, but for the rest of match we defended strongly, and we have to focus on doing that again.

“At the other end of the pitch, Jordan Rhodes and Theo Robinson scored unbelievable goals to show what attacking menace we have.

“The win put us back into the top six and we want to stay there, because being in the play-offs is as good for the players as it is for the fans.”