Adam Murray admitted Adi Yussuf was very much in contention for a first start for Mansfield Town for tomorrow’s trip to fellow high-flyers Northampton Town.
Yussuf, who joined the club from Conference South Oxford City in the summer, has twice notched goals when coming on from the bench and Murray is delighted to see the strides the Tanazian youngster is making.
“He’s made fantastic progress,” said Murray. “He is one of those that we probably took a bit of a gamble on in pre-season. He knows that.
“We’ve given him the opportunity and we’ve put a lot of work into him. Credit to him, the games we are seeing at the moment are superb and he deserves a start.
“His hold-up play, his link-up play, his game intelligence, his fitness have all come on leaps and bounds.
“You watch him now and it’s a different Adi Yussuf to the one that played his first game at Rainworth and he does things now that a senior pro does.
“If he keeps working the way he is, he is going to score a lot of goals. Every time he goes onto the pitch now he gets a chance.
“When he does get that run of games he will get into his flow and those chances will be taken.”
Murray admitted: “Adi is very close to a start. It’s a big leap from playing, with all due respect, in the Conference North and South to come in and start in League Two. We’ve seen the step up from the Conference, which is a very strong league.
“It’s all right saying Adi deserves a chance, but he’s got to be ready.
“He has proved over the first couple of months of this season that he can handle it and create chances himself and score goals.
“So he is very close to a start – and that may be Saturday. It’s up to him when he gets it, he’s got to take it. It’s the old cliché – actions speak louder than words.”
A graduate of Leicester City’s academy set-up where he played regularly at youth and reserve level, the Tanzanian striker left the King Power Stadium four years ago to join Burton Albion.
He featured on 31 occasions in two seasons with Burton, before spending 2013/14 at Lincoln City. He also took in loan spells with Gainsborough Trinity (loan), Harrogate Town (loan) and Histon (loan).
Yussuf, nevertheless, was undoubtedly one of the star players in the Conference North last season as his 26 goals took Oxford to within a single point of the play-off places.