NATHAN CLARKE accepts Town have a lot of work to do, but he's far from given up on making a play-off challenge this season.
The 21-year-old centre-back returned from injury to play an impressive part in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Luton and he's eager to get cracking against MK Dons at the National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes tomorrow (3.00).
It will be a special occasion, too, for Clarke's brother Tom - 17 only in December - gets into the action for a senior debut against Danny Wilson's side.
Tom has been on the bench a couple of times already and, stepping up in the absence of the suspended Efe Sodje, Nathan has no doubts he will be up to the task.
"Tom is very excited about being involved with the first-team squad, let alone playing, and he's more than happy just at being on the bench," said Nathan, who also made his debut as a 17-year-old.
"He is delighted to have played in a few of the practice matches that we've had and to have worked with the first team.
"And he's got the blue first-team training kit now, which is brilliant for him.
"Tom has been doing really well and, now the chance has come, I'm sure he's ready to take it.
"He is definitely a lot stronger than I was at the same age and he'll take things in his stride when the game comes around."
Three points remain top priority, however, and Clarke senior is in confident mood.
"We got a great point last weekend after being behind and I don't see any reason why we can't kick on from that," he explained.
"There will be some hard games coming up, like tomorrow's against a side who have improved of late, but if we play like we can then hopefully we will get on that really good run that we need.
"I know that we've got sucked away from the play-off places and there's a gap to be made up, but we can get back into the picture if we stick at it. The strikers are going very well at the moment and if we can keep things tight defensively as a team, then we can pick up the points that we need."
Clarke has been impressed by loan man Luke Beckett, whose Town spell looks like ending tomorrow but whose five goals in four outings since joining from Sheffield United have made him the talk of the town.
"Luke has done brilliantly for us and let's hope he keeps it going tomorrow," said Clarke, who is now fully recovered from a groin injury.
"He got some stick from the lads for his goal last week, with everyone telling him the ball had hit his knee, his shin and his foot before looping over the keeper, but Luke just laughed it off.
"He has slotted in really well at the club, he has formed a good relationship with Boothy and Pawel Abbott and they are all playing well together, which is encouraging."
Clarke was happy with the 4-4-2 formation which Town employed a week ago and added: "It's a shame we couldn't keep a clean sheet.
"Quite a lot of the lads feel the Luton goal was offside, but it shows the character we've got in the side that we kept on going right to the end, battled all the way through and eventually earned a point we deserved in injury time.
"When the gaffer mentioned he was thinking of switching the formation, all the lads felt they would be comfortable matching Luton up in a 4-4-2 and playing them at their own game and, overall, I think it worked well for us.
"We can certainly take confidence from it for the MK Dons game."
The Clarkes will be only the fourth set of brothers to play together in Town's first team following Willie and Albert Watson (1946), Simon and Sam Collins (1996) and Akpo and Efe Sodje this season.
Town expect around 1,000 fans to travel tomorrow for their first ever visit to the hockey headquarters.
MK Dons - Baker, Lewington, Chorley, Harding, Small, Oyedele, Crooks, McLeod, Mitchell, Platt, Pensee-Bilong, Smart, Kamara, Puncheon, Palmer, Herve.
Town - Rachubka, Mirfin, T.Clarke, N.Clarke, Edwards, Brandon, Ahmed, Worthington, Schofield, McAliskey, Booth, Beckett, Fowler, Abbott, Mendes, Senior, McCombe, Lloyd.
Referee - Brian Curson (Leicester).