Lee Stevenson yesterday met the press wearing a pair of goalkeeper’s gloves and a big grin on his face.
The Stags midfielder was ‘tongue in cheek’ putting himself forward as an emergency keeper for tomorrow’ big home clash with leaders Rochdale with first choice Alan Marriott trying to recover from a dislocated finger in time to play and No.2 keeper Ian Deakin having treatment for thigh and rib injuries.
However, maybe Stevenson’s cheeky bid did carry a modicum of realism as he said:
“I have done it before. Maybe I will do a bit in front of the sticks today and show the gaffer what I am all about.
“I was with Belper in a cup game and it was 4-4. A big brute of a striker came through one on one with me but I managed to sit on the ball and save it. Then I scored in the replay so happy days!”
However, Stags do expect Marriott to recover in time so Stevenson’s big to be Stags’ keeper may have to wait a bit longer.
On tomorrow’s game, he said: “Rochdale are a good team and we expect them to come out all guns blazing.
“We will be working on our shape today and maybe we will let them have the ball, press them high up the pitch and catch them on the counter-attack which we have done well away from home this season.
“They are up there for a reason and are one of the better sides we have played this year. We took a spanking at their place.
“But we are on a good run, winning three on the trot, and going for a fourth. So I hope we can put a spanner in the works.”
He added: “It has been a tough season and a learning curve for everyone involved. Look at Newport. They were flying before Christmas but have dropped like a lead balloon, as have Exeter. It is an interesting league.
“I think the relegation fight could go right to the death. With us playing Torquay and Bristol Rovers we will still have a big part to play in it.
“We want a top half finish. We will go for the top 10 and see where that takes us.
“Last season everyone was coming here to try to spoil our party and we realise how tough it is to finish teams off.
“It will be tense for Rochdale as they will have one eye on Scunthorpe and Chesterfield. A bit of pressure has been taken away from us with three wins. I hope we can go out there and put on a good performance for our fans.”
Stevenson is one of many Mansfield players hoping for a new deal next season.
He said: “My contract is up in the summer so watch out! Everyone is thinking about their futures.
“Fingers crossed I’ve done enough. I have played 20-odd games and scored six goals so that’s not bad for my first season in the Football League and I hope I will be here next year.
“I think once we are mathematically safe there will be a few knocks on the gaffer’s door.”