WORLD CUP defender Efe Sodje makes his Town debut in tonight's Carling Cup clash with Derby County at the McAlpine (7.45).

The 30-year-old signing from Crewe looks likely to step into central defence as the only change to Peter Jackson's starting line-up for a testing first-round tie.

The Nigerian international - who has a new set of blue and white bandanas to wear! - was on the bench as Town drew 2-2 against Cambridge on Saturday, but he's now ready to start in front of a hoped-for 6,000-plus crowd paying reduced admission.

"Efe is going to start because he gives us a bit more height and a bit more pace," said Jackson today.

"He was itching to play on Saturday, but I didn't think it was right after only three days training with us, especially as the lads had done so well in training.

"It's right to play him for various reasons tonight and I know he'll be keen to show our fans what a good player we have got."

Tonight's tie against George Burley's side - which could mark McAlpine returns for Lee Morris and Gianfranco Tome (Labarthe) - will be settled on the night with extra-time and a penaltu shoot-out if necessary .

Midfield man Tony Carss will be Town's regular penalty taker this season and Jackson already has in mind who his shoot-out colleagues will be.

Town are desperate to get into the second round draw - which will be made on Sky at 5.30pm on Saturday - by beating First Division opponents rated 11/8 favourites for the tie.

Derby lost 3-0 at home to Stoke in their League opener, however, when striker Izale McLeod suffered an ankle injury which makes him a doubt tonight, and Jackson knows they will want to bounce back.

"It's a big game for both clubs, but we are hoping for a big crowd and another good atmosphere to help us get through," said the manager, whose Academy play Shelbourne in Dublin (7.00).

"The lads were terrific on the training ground yesterday and we want a good, positive performance. It was disappointing for everyone to concede that last-minute goal on Saturday, but that's all now behind us and we are looking forward to testing ourselves against Derby.

"Jeff Lee watched them at the weekend, so we know a bit about them, but all I'll be asking of the lads is to show the same effort and desire they did on Saturday.

"We know we can play better because we never really got going in midfield, and we also want to tighten up defending free-kicks."


Town - Gray, Booty, Sodje, Yates, Edwards, Thompson, Carss, Fowler, Schofield, Stead, Newby. Subs (from): Thorrington, Senior, Worthington, Booth, Hughes, Scott, Holdsworth.

Derby - (from): Oakes, Cauldwell, Elliott, Jackson, Hunt, Huddlestone, Taylor, Bills, Morris, Tufter, Boetien, McLeod, Grant, Valakari, Bolder, Tome.

Referee - Eddie Ilderton (Newcastle).

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