FUMING boss Paul Cox has told his players that Saturday’s home clash with form side Cambridge United could be a big turning point for the club and players’ futures.
Cox was one of several at Field Mill struck down by illness this week and missed seeing his side getting panned 5-0 in their FA Cup replay at Fleetwood on Tuesday night.
The squad, already ravaged by the illness, with three of the back four playing on feeling its effects, also missed out on a pre-match stop due to heavy traffic and arrived late. But Cox was not using any of it as an excuse for the capitulation that followed.
“Saturday is a massive crossroads for us,” he said. “Now we will see what we are all about.
“This is the time of season now where the gloves are off and I expect everyone, me included, to stand up and be counted.
“We need to get back on track and I want to see a reaction.
“Cambridge being the form team is a great game for us to come into after losing 5-0. It’s all about mindset. Let’s see if Fleetwood was a one-off. It hurt me and it should hurt the players.
“If I see any of them laughing and joking when they arrive at training today then they won’t be the player I think they are.
“I expect a proper response on Saturday though one or two players may crawl under a stone and hide away. If they do I am not too concerned – I can replace them.
“Results like Tuesday should only come round once in a blue moon.
“It will be a lot tougher around the club this week. I think one or two will throw the towel in and that may sound harsh and horrible. But I want a response.”
He added: “This is the first time since I have been here that I feel the way I do now. The side we had out should not have been beaten 5-0.
“If I need to go out and replace one to 11 I will do.
“I need to nip it in the bud and take them out of their comfort zone. I want to see the hunger and desire that has been lacking.
““It’s not panic stations – it’s a sense of realism. I desperately need to strengthen and tweak things and some hard decisions need to be made.”
Stags will welcome back Tom Naylor and Jon Worthington from injury and illness and wait on Matt Green. But Louis Briscoe and Joe Kendrick remained sidelined.
Cambridge have won four of their last five games and only lost once in 15 matches, taking them up to fifth, three points ahead of Mansfield though Stags have a game in hand.