Chris Wilder is confident Darren Carter will prove an able deputy for suspended midfielder Joel Byrom when his in-form side visit Plymouth Argyle this weekend.
Byrom is suspended for the next two games after receiving his 10th booking of the season in the midweek win over Portsmouth at Sixfields.
His most likely replacement, as a left-footed central-midfielder, is Carter, who was last year’s player of the year but has found first-team football hard to come by in recent weeks.
Wilder has faith in the 31-year-old to step into the breach alongside Jason Taylor for a vital game at Home Park.
“Joel has been quietly exceptional for us and he’s formed an excellent partnership in midfield with Jason Taylor,” said Wilder.
“He goes about his business without any fuss, he gets goals and assists and he breaks the play up nicely in the middle of the park.
“But it’s a chance for someone else now.
“Darren was excellent for me last season but he hasn’t really got his season going.
“He got injured in the first game and it’s been a bit of a stop-start year for him so far but this is his opportunity to make his mark.
“He’s an experienced player and he brings quality to the team so this is his chance.”
Wilder welcomes back John-Joe O’Toole to his squad for the game at Plymouth with the midfielder having served his three-game ban for the sending-off at Mansfield.
But O’Toole, who was a key player in the team’s good start to 2015, is not guaranteed a starting return.
“It will be a battle for him (O’Toole) to get into the side,” he said.
“But it’s important to have players who are desperate to play.
“There are never any guarantees of anything. He did very well up until the sending-off at Mansfield but we’ve won all three of our games since then.
“Hopefully he’s willing to go again and he’ll add something to the group.”