Crawley captain Josh Simpson could return to action within three weeks.

The midfielder began rehabilitation work yesterday after the results of a scan on the ankle he damaged during the televised clash with Doncaster last Monday revealed he had not torn the ligaments.

Simpson will definitely miss tonight’s home match against Brentford but boss Richie Barker hopes he will be fit again to boost Crawley’s play-off challenge in the final ten games of the season.

Barker said: “If there had been any major damage Josh’s season would probably have been over but now we are pretty confident he will be able to play again. It won’t be this week and I would be very surprised if it was next week but hopefully the week after that.

“There shouldn’t be a problem in terms of regaining fitness as Josh has played nearly every game for us this season and is naturally fit. But we’ve got to be careful and accept we will probably get him back for the final ten games of the season rather than trying to rush him back to play the last 12 and making it worse.”

Barker is confident Crawley will still have something to play for by the time Simpson is ready to return.

Reds are currently 12 points outside the play-offs ahead of the visit of Brentford but Barker said: “We think we are in with a shout. The division is so tight that right down to MK Dons (in 14th place) probably still believe they have got a chance.

“Every game at the weekend apart from one was settled by one goal and that shows how equally matched the league is. If you go on a run like Yeovil, Bournemouth and Sheffield United have done at times this season it can catapult you right up the table.”

Meanwhile, Crawley midfielder Shaun Cooper has extended his loan at League One rivals Portsmouth by another month. Cooper, who has made seven appearances for Pompey since joining at the end of January, is expected to miss tonight’s clash with MK Dons with a hip injury but should be in contention for the trip to Crewe on Saturday.

<p><b>Two-page preview of tonight's game against Brentford in The Argus today - including an interview with Billy Clarke and manager Richie Barker's thoughts on stand-in captain Dannie Bulman</b></p>