Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox is still hoping he may get permission to bring in a centre half on loan for a month before injury-ravaged Stags head off to Portsmouth tomorrow morning.
Cox has 15 fit players right now, 16 if Rob Taylor is declared well enough to join the squad to play in the cauldron of Fratton Park on Saturday.
His list of unavailable players grew this week with a three-game ban for skipper Adam Murray and a torn hamstring for outstanding centre half Ryan Tafazolli, which left him without three of his five central defenders.
Said Cox: “It’s just the situation we are in and we have to get on with it. It’s no use crying over spilt milk.
“The team will more or less pick itself. I am hoping we can move into the loan market just for a month to get a body or two in and I am trying to speak to the chairman. I am hoping for a bit of help to see us through what I feel is a big month. If not we will just soldier on.”
Cox did have a look at two potential defenders in a midweek reserve game, but won’t be calling on them just yet.
“They were two young centre backs who did extremely well against a more or less first choice Huddersfield, but they are not ready yet for League Two,” he said. “But we will keep an eye an eye on both of them as they have bags of potential.
“It does feel like we’ve run over a few black cats and tripped over a few more, but no one is going to feel sorry for us. This situation happens in football and we just have to get out heads down.
“I have been in football a long time and I have never seen anything like this. It’s not just strains, we are talking long term injuries.
“All I want for Christmas is my full quota of players back, to get them focused, keep them fit and then develop as I think they should do.
“I feel a bit for our medical staff as we put an awful lot of pressure on them. You want good players back.”
After last Saturday’s tame 1-0 home surrender to Accrington – a second defeat on the trot – Cox said the intensity in training had been deliberately upped this week.
“It’s been really important how the boys responded this week and sessions have been tough with not an inch given,” he said.
“That first half performance was unacceptable for this football club last Saturday and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I just sat there and shrugged my shoulders.”
Stags held their own in draws home and away with Portsmouth last season and Cox is relishing the atmosphere at Fratton Park on Saturday.
“A number of years ago they were a Premier league club and winning the FA Cup and they are still a massive club with a massive fan base and amazing resources,” he said. “But this is still just a football match. We have got to be positive and resolute and come away with a positive result.
“We get paid to play football and you want to play in an atmosphere like it will be down there every week. I’d love to manage in an atmosphere like that every week. It’s unbelievable.
“Take the two clubs, they are a club that really has no right to be down at this level of football with their crowds. They should be Championship at least.
“We have just been promoted from non-League football and are still trying to build an infrastructure. So to talk about ourselves in the same breath as Portsmouth in my eyes as a manager is quite pleasing. We are happy to be hanging on their coat tails.”
He added: “Resources and money always talk. Someone asked me the other day who’d win the Premier League and I said Chelsea as they and Manchester City always get the most money.
“We just have to get out heads round it. We know we are going to get a few bloody noses this year, but we just have to go about our business in the right manner.
“No one is going to come in and wave a magic wand. I just want to see a bit of desire and fight. I need to see something in us that says we are not feeling sorry for ourselves.
“Our situation doesn’t mean we can’t put on a show or win a game. I am sick of talking about injuries and suspensions and as long as we have 11 players who work extremely hard they can win a football match.”
Cox is likely to either draft Lee Beevers in as an emergency centre half and recall Liam Marsden or Rob Taylor as a wing back or abandon his usual 3-5-2 formation and go 4-4-2.