ALL the talk at Field Mill this week has been about the possible Stags debut of John Thompson at AFC Telford on Saturday - but Rhys Day today firmly staked his own claim for a comeback shirt.
And the Welsh centre half even suggested he and Thompson could come in as a formidable pair.
With Ben Futcher having returned to Bury and Martin Riley out injured, Ritchie Sutton is the only regular centre half left standing apart from Day and Thompson.
Day has been plagued with injuries for the best part of eight months while Thompson is recovering from dreadful facial injuries sustained pre-season.
However, the pair did well alongside each other in Monday’s 2-1 friendly win at Eastwood, and today Day said: “I am back to full fitness.
“I have played three games in the last week and done 90 minutes in all of them. So I would like to think I am now fully fit and ready to go.
“There is no reason why me and Thommo shouldn’t both be picked on Saturday. It is a good partnership. I have been playing alongside him the last couple of weeks and he is a good talker and a good organiser.”
Cautious Paul Cox has said he doesn’t want to rush either of them back if they are not 100 per cent ready physically and mentally and may even bring a centre half in on loan before Saturday. But Day said: “He doesn’t need to sign anyone.
“I will go out there and win headers, win challenges and organise. I like to think that’s what I can bring to the team.
“The last time I was here I played well and I thought I was on top of my game. I would like to get back to that now so I can help give this club what it deserved.
“I have had some tough times. For a long time after the operation I didn’t feel it was getting any better. But I was told to keep on working hard and now I feel I am back to 100 per cent. If I am thrown in on Saturday I feel I am ready.
“I have felt better with every 90 minutes I have done, but I know Saturday would be a big hurdle I need to overcome. But I feel confident I could do 90 minutes at full pace and do a good job.
“They were horrendous injuries and I felt for him. But he has grown in confidence every game he has played, especially with his heading with the injury he had.
“Me and Thommo could be fighting for the same shirt, being the same type of player. It’s the gaffer’s choice now.”
After a two-week lay-off, Stags know they are more than capable of winning the two away games at struggler Telford and Bath in the next fortnight.
“It’s massive. If we van pick up six points in the next two games we would be right back in the play-off positions,” he said.
“I have been very lucky in my career. I won the LDV Trophy with Blackpool, the Setanta Shield and promotion with Aldershot and the play-offs with Oxford. But if I could help get Mansfield back into the League it would top it all by 100 per cent.”
Manager Cox added: “The next two days are very big days for both Thommo and Rhys.
“It could be I will have to chuck one of them in on Saturday but only if they are ready or it could have an adverse affect on them.
“There is a chance I may be able to bring in a new face before the weekend, maybe even two. I have irons in the fire and one is looking very promising.”
Lee Stevenson, back from loan, scored the winner on Monday to push his claims while Lindon Meikle and loanee Keiron Freeman are both back from midweek international duty.
Paul Connor’s fears he had broken three of his toes have proved to be severe bruising instead and he should be back in contention as will be Jon Worthington after illness.
But injured quartet Adam Smith, Joe Kendrick, Martin Riley and Louis Briscoe will all miss out, Briscoe now around 10 days from a return to training.