Could Freeman make a loan return to Mansfield Town?

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Stags boss Paul Cox could turn to Derby County defender Keiran Freeman to bolster his weakened rearguard ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup trip to St Albans City.

As a Nottingham Forest youngster, Freeman had an impressive nine-game loan spell with the Stags back in 2010/11 and went on to play for Forest’s first game and then Notts County before Nigel Clough took him to Derby last year.

However, Cox was keen to stress he had only spoken to Freeman’s agent and not the player or Derby County, and had no idea if he wanted to come or if the Rams would allow the 21-year-old to become cup-tied.

“I get on with Keiran really well and I have spoken with his representative, but nothing more. I have been speaking to a number of players,” said Cox.

“He is not getting a game at Derby and I know Derby want to get him out to play some games and, obviously, he is a Nottingham boy.

“I was watching him play the other day and Keiran has come on in leaps and bounds. He is looking one hell of a football player.

“I am always looking to improve my squad and he definitely fits the bill. Everyone knows the squad is depleted and we are a bit low on defenders at the minute.”

Cox would not rule out getting Freeman on board in time for the weekend cup tie, saying: “It is possible, but first and foremost I would need to speak to his club and, more importantly, to the lad himself.

“This is the FA Cup this weekend and I don’t know if his club would want him cup-tied.”