Blair blow as Stags’ week of misery goes on

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After sinking into the bottom two for the first time since promotion back to the Football League on Saturday, Mansfield Town’s week of misery continued as they today found out they have lost new star signing Matty Blair for the rest of the season with a serious knee injury.

Winger Blair will miss six to nine months after a scan revealed he had damaged his cruciate ligament in an innocuous challenge in the devastating 2-1 defeat at relegations rivals Carlisle United.

Stags at least shored up at the back before Monday’s transfer window deadline passed with the arrival of experienced Newport County keeper Lenny Pidgeley.

But ahead of Saturday’s visit of Stevenage, the mood was a sombre one as boss Adam Murray said: “It’s not good news. It feels like we have run over about eight black cats at the moment.

“Matty has done his cruciate and will be out six to nine months. It is devastating for him but also for me as a manager and for the lads.

“We will miss him. Matty has been like a breath of fresh air since he arrived. And everyone knows what he brings to the table.

“For such a nothing incident, we are losing one of our X-factors, though we still have a number of them in the squad.

“We are all going to have to pull together and dig deep. Maybe this will fire us up to work harder.

“Matty is gutted. He hasn’t taken it very well, but you wouldn’t expect anyone to.

“As a person, he is a great, great bloke. He is a true pro who I know will be back sooner rather than later.”

Murray added: “We are going to have to look at our options as we are quite low in numbers, and the loan window opens next week.

“We need to end this spell of not picking up results. We need to turn good performances into wins.

“That may mean we have got to go a bit more into battle mode. We may have to pick a more gritty side for certain games.

“My overall philosophy of the way we want to play may have to take a hit because of the situation we are in as the bottom line has to be points.

“But I have never shirked a battle in my life and we will fight on.”

Stags face a crucial February with six games of which four are at the One Call where the home fans can make a huge difference.

However, Murray said: “The bottom line is the players have to do it on the pitch.

“That is the most important thing. They have to give supporters something to shout about.”

Stags have only won once in 11 games, but Murray said: “The biggest thing for me is that we have got a hell of a lot of football still to play. It’s not as if we are going into five games left in this situation.

“There are 19 games left and 57 points to play for. We have some good players in that dressing room and they are a frame of mind prepared for battle.”

Stags do welcome back Chris Clements from illness and John Dempster after injury into the squad for Saturday’s visit of eighth-placed Stevenage who, after a great run of five wins and draw in six games, have just lost two on the bounce.

On Tuesday Mansfield then head north again to take on 11th-placed Morecambe, who draw all five games in January.