JON STEAD was absent from the Town training ground today - but only for medical reasons!

The 20-year-old leading scorer was under intensive treatment for Achilles and hamstring niggles as speculation continued about possible big-club interest in Town's most saleable asset.

With only 11 days until the transfer window closes, fans are hoping that Sunday's match against York at Bootham Crescent will not prove to be Stead's swansong in a Town shirt.

The manager shares those hopes, although he acknowledges he can control the situation only so far.

"I have always said I would be honest with the fans and honest with Jonathan about anyone coming in for him - and we have not received a single inquiry," said Jackson, who included Lee Fowler in the Reserves for a practice match against Chesterfield.

"I'm quite surprised, because he is an exceptional talent, but I'm pleasantly surprised because I don't want him to go.

"Steady has already proved to be a tremendous goalscorer, but his all-round play on Saturday was excellent again and he is performing superbly for us.

"The only fear would be that someone might start to panic as the transfer window gets near to closing and feel they have to come in with a substantial bid. That is something I cannot control, so all we can do is get on with our business here and see what, if anything, happens in the next few days."

Sunderland chairman Bob Murray has confirmed their £800,000 bid remains on the table, while Southampton continue to be linked to the 18-goal marksman who is expected back in training tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Jackson reported both Rob Edwards and Andy Booth to be responding to treatment for hamstring and groin injuries respectively and has not ruled them out of possible comebacks at York.

Stead's strike companion Nat Brown also remained under treatment today after taking a knock in the 2-0 defeat of Boston, but he is expected to be fine by the weekend.

"It has been a great little spell for us with five wins on the trot and we'll be doing all we can to keep it going," said Jackson.

"If more players are coming back to fitness, it can only help us."

Town - who have offered trials to the Australian youngster Matt Danskin when his Werder Bremen contract expires in the summer - have only 678 tickets left for the trip to York and are already guaranteed their biggest following of the season.

A total of 2,452 fans have already bought tickets for the match, in which Town are chasing a sixth successive victory to bolster their Division III play-off hopes.