FIRED-UP team chief Peter Jackson is confident John McCombe will rise to the biggest challenge of his career as Town bid to add a Carling Cup headache to Blackburn's Premiership woes.
The 20-year-old defender is a confirmed replacement for suspended Tom Clarke at Ewood Park tomorrow night (8.00), when he's likely to face the pace and talent of Welsh international Craig Bellamy.
Having failed to score in six and a half hours of Premiership action, Rovers manager Mark Hughes is expected to name a strong line-up for the second-round tie, especially as they were dumped out of the competition with a weakened team at the first hurdle last season by Bournemouth in a penalty shootout.
Town will have backing from more than 2,500 fans in a 10,000 crowd - a second allocation of tickets are on sale until 1.00pm tomorrow at the Galpharm - and Jackson believes McCombe will take his first Carling Cup-tie in his stride.
"John now has the chance to stake his claim and there's no bigger and better place to do that than on the Premiership stage," said Jackson, who has Reserve midfielder Lee Fowler playing a practice match for LDV opponents Boston United today.
"He has been very patient in waiting for his chance and this is obviously a big challenge for him, but John will go out there and do his work.
"There are no frills about big John. He is an old fashioned type of centre half in much the same way that I was and I know he won't let me down.
"John will stick his head into a cement mixer if you ask him, he will tackle and he will play the ball nice and simple, which is all you can ask.
"Like all the rest of the lads, I know he is looking forward to it and he'll take it in his stride."
McCombe's chance comes on the back of Clarke's one-game ban and injuries to David Mirfin (hamstring) and Martin McIntosh (knee).
McCombe - who has four League starts and two substitute appearances to add to two LDV games - is the only fit senior centre-back available.
Eight coaches are already booked for Town fans to travel to Ewood, where it's cash only payment on the night at the away ticket office.
Tickets for Colchester on Saturday are also selling well, as are tickets for the Bradford City game on October 10 which went on sale yesterday.
Fowler, meanwhile, is playing behind closed doors at Rushden and Diamonds with a view to joining Boston on loan. Should they take him, it would be with a view to a permanent transfer to York Street.