STAGS were given a big boost ahead of tomorrow’s home clash with Forest Green Rovers when they learned that right back Luke O’Neill will be able to play, despite picking up his fifth booking of the season at York on Sunday.
The club believed he would be missing but have been told by the league that players’ cautions from the first half of the season were wiped out on New Year’s Day, so O’Neill is now back down to one.
With Keiron Freeman going back to Nottingham Forest at the end of his two-month loan, O’Neill could yet find himself switching to left back on Saturday, depending on the fitness of Joe Kendrick.
“Joe was excellent for us at the start of the season but then had that bad back injury,” said manager Paul Cox.
“He has been training for the last two weeks so we will have to see what condition he is in for Saturday. We will have John Dempster back from suspension too. And, with the window open, we can always bring someone else in if we want to.”
With Stags having drawn 12 games already this season and Forest Green, a point and a place behind them, having drawn 11, it is obvious what most folk doing the pools will mark on their coupon on this game.
Rovers are expected to play with only one striker and look to hit Stags on the break.
But Stags will be going all out for the win they desperately need – and that may sometimes mean throwing caution to the wind.
“Forest Green are the masters of four-five-one and they will sit back and hope to get one on the break,” said Cox.
“We have got to be brave. And the crowd have a massive part to play too.
“We are now at the business end of the season and it is a waste of time us sitting back and seeing if we can win it 1-0.
“We have to try to win it and that may mean us leaving ourselves open at times.
“They are up there with us on draws and are excellent at grinding out results. We have to break them down and be positive.
“Our last three performances warranted nine points. It is a simple equation. We have to stop drawing and start winning.”
Stags should have a full squad to choose from apart from central defender John Thompson, who is waiting for the results from a specialist examination on his neck/shoulder problem.