TOWN chief Peter Jackson will not be surprised if another posse of scouts turn up to watch David Mirfin at Northampton tonight.

The 18-year-old centre-back scored his second goal of the season against Scunthorpe on Saturday before catching the eye as Town's stand-out defender.

Premiership clubs Blackburn, Liverpool and Wolves were there to see him, as were First Division Preston North End, Watford and Sheffield United.

Mirfin will tonight play his eighth straight match as sweeper in place of injured Nathan Clarke - and Jackson believes he is making that role his own.

"Big Mirf was brilliant on Saturday and I can't imagine there is an 18-year-old centre-back playing better in the Nationwide League at the moment," said Jackson.

"Everyone thought it would be a massive blow to our chances when we lost Clarkey because he was playing outstandingly well himself, but Mirf has come in and done an exceptional job.

"He is big, strong and quick, he's good in the air, fearless in the tackle and he keeps popping up and scoring vital goals, like against York and again on Saturday.

"The great thing about Mirfin is that he wants to learn and he wants to become a top player and, looking at what he is doing at the moment, he can achieve anything he wants."

Jackson has set the whole defence the task of keeping a clean sheet against Scot Colin Calderwood's side - John Deehan is director of football - to thwart Northampton's efforts at taking a play-off place with a win.

"Tonight's game and Saturday's trip to Hull are probably our toughest back-to-back away games of the season but the target is to win at least one of them to take us nearer our target of winning promotion," he added.

* Jackson will take a break from Town's promotion push on Thursday evening to open a Cancer Research fundraising event at Armitage Bridge Club (8.00).

Jackson and members of the McAlpine squad will attend, there's a chance to win a signed shirt and ball from both Town and the Giants. All fans are welcome, there's plenty of entertainment, and anyone can donate prizes by ringing Keith Stringer on 01484-312965.