Mansfield boss Cox trails ‘aggressive’ centre halves

STAGS may have a new centre half in the squad in time for the weekend’s trip to surprise package Braintree Town.

While Stags were slipping to a 3-0 loss at Gateshead on Tuesday, with boss Paul Cox bemoaning his side’s ‘soft underbelly’, promoted minnows Braintree were destroying Grimsby Town 5-0.

With star defender John Thompson possibly out until October, Cox admitted after the Gateshead game he is short of a dominant aggressive centre half and yesterday went to watch one.

He has also spoken to a League club about another. One is a promising, aggressive youngster and the other an experienced League defender. If he can bring in one or neither will be down to money.

Said Cox: “I need a defender who is ruthless in both boxes. But I need to speak to the chairman about finance and I may need to wheel and deal to make it happen,” said Cox. “But we could have someone in before the weekend.

“It may mean me making some ruthless decisions that upset the players. But I am not here to be liked. I have to do my job and nip this in the bud as soon as possible. So I have been on the phone 24/7 since Tuesday.

“I don’t want a team of angels as angels win nothing. I want a team that is fiercely passionate about winning football matches and will win at all costs. We seem to be missing a few ingredients.

“Don’t get me wrong, the players I have here are honest lads who are working hard.

“But I need someone who is maybe a bit dishonest in both boxes and can show a bit of cunning and conniving. He can do the horrible side of the game and let centre forwards know they’ve been in a game. We can’t keep giving away soft goals.

“I think we need two or three players like that. But we do have Paul Bolland, Richie Sutton, Anthony Howell, Adam Smith, Lindon Meikle and John Thompson, who have had sporadic pre-seasons, to come back in yet so I won’t rush out and make stupid decisions. There is no hitting the panic button yet.

“We are only two games into a 46-game season. But this is a wake-up call to the players.”

On Saturday’s task ahead, he added: “This looks like it will be one of the tightest leagues for a long time and there will be no easy games.

“Braintree will be very tough opposition. But we need to get down to the nitty gritty, start doing the basics right and winning football matches.