Stags boss Cox’s fitness check before naming side to face Harriers

PAUL Cox will ask his players to be fully honest with him over their current fitness before deciding if he will make any changes for Saturday’s visit of Kidderminster Harriers.

Mansfield Town’s current eight game unbeaten run has seen the manager keep the same side for the last five games.

They did drop two points at home to AFC Telford late in Tuesday night’s game, but Cox won’t make changes for the sake of it to a side that has been generally firing on all cylinders.

“I will have a chat to them all, collectively and individually, about tiredness,” he said. “Tuesday wasn’t our best display, but we were only four minutes away from a win and going top so I won’t be making any rash decisions.

“You don’t become a bad player overnight and I am in no rush to drop five players or go out and sign another five.

“I want players to be honest with me and tell me if they feel a bit leggy as we have other players on the bench and in the stand who are champing at the bit. If they say they are fine then their performance will be judged accordingly.”

Telford boss, former England international Andy Sinton, is certainly a fan of Paul Cox’s side after Tuesday and has told Cox he feels this season’s title battle is between Luton and Mansfield.

“That is nice to hear though there are a lot of pounds and pennies between us and Luton,” said Cox. “They are an ex-First Division club with big aspirations. So if would be great if we could match that and be there or thereabouts.”

He added: “I would have settled for four points from the last two games, though we did it the wrong way round, but we are averaging almost two points a game and that’s play-off form at least over a season. In fact, the way everyone is beating everyone else, I think the Championship could be won by a record low number of points this season.

“I understand there were a lot of scouts there on Tuesday night which comes with the territory. If you do well at this level people are interested in your players.”

It was Anthony Howell’s loose ball that set Telford on the way to their late equaliser, but Cox wouldn’t point the finger of blame at his combative midfielder.

“If players don’t work hard for me at this football club I can be damning. But I won’t have a go at someone who makes an honest mistake,” he said

“Anthony was only doing his job. He has been absolutely magnificent for us and epitomises our spirit. Every club that goes up will have an ‘Anthony Howell’ in the side.”

Midfielder Lee Stevenson is having an X-ray on his foot fracture today to make sure he is ready to return to training.