Mansfield Town are hoping shoulder injury victims Fergus Bell and Ryan Tafazolli will both be fit to face visitors Accrington Stanley on Saturday.
Bell missed last weekend’s defeat at Stevenage with his injury while Tafazolli gritted his teeth and got through the game after suffering the injury early on.
There was further concern when Bell had to come off after another bang on the same shoulder in last night’s 5-1 reserves defeat at Derby County.
But manager Paul Cox today was optimistic, saying: “We took him off as a precaution as he is in our thoughts for Saturday.
“He worked extremely hard last night and looked a threat. Then he took a knock on the shoulder and we took him off. But he was in training today with no ill effects.
“Ryan should also be fine for Saturday. He is a big, strong boy. It was a nasty fall on his shoulder last week but we will strap him up. He is another who will run through a brick wall for this football club and these boys need as much support from every facet of this club as possible as well as a pat on the back.
“We only have about 17 or 18 fit players and some of those going out there are playing on with knocks.”
Stags sent a young side to face Derby, where new boy Reggie Lambe notched the only Mansfield goal, and Cox said: “It was a very strong Derby side, including a player on loan from Atletico Madrid.
“But I have to look at the bigger picture and you can’t get experience unless you’ve had experience.
“That was a bit of experience for the kids. But you learn nothing from winning consistently. You need to come up against bigger clubs and better players and they will have learned so much from it, even though the scoreline was a poor one.”
Bizarrely, Stags go into Saturday’s clash with in-form Accrington as the only side in the top five divisions yet to draw a game.
Cox’s men know they have to produce a response to last Saturday’s tame 3-0 loss at Stevenage as well as gain some revenge on Stanley for last season when they won 3-2 at Mansfield with two stoppage time stunners and then gained a draw at home with a stoppage time penalty.
“They were strange games, but have to learn from them,” said Cox. “We have new players now and we need to learn how to manage games better.
“If we win we could be up in the play-offs just outside the top three and, with the resources we have and the injuries we’ve got, that would be unbelievable.
“You will always have days like Stevenage. We want to succeed and win every game. But the law of averages say you will get fatigue and injuries.
“For the standards we have set ourselves, we were a million miles off it last Saturday. So we want to get back on the horse and start another run as quickly as possible.
“With the resources we have, we need an incredible amount of luck with injuries and suspensions between now and Christmas. If we can get injured players back and young players to understand League Two we are a match for anybody. But if we get injuries and suspensions it will kill us.
“I don’t want to fluff it up. That’s where we are. We are in the hands of the gods until Christmas.”