Taft pressing for surprise Stags return against Exeter

Mansfield Town's George Taft - Pic by Chris Holloway
Mansfield Town's George Taft - Pic by Chris Holloway

Centre half George Taft could be a surprise inclusion in Mansfield Town’s side for Saturday’s crunch home game with play-off rivals Exeter City.

Taft has only played seven times all season and not been in the side since 10th September due to a hamstring injury.

But the 6ft 5ins giant has stood out in training and a practice game this week to put himself into contention.

The Stags were missing Krystian Pearce with an ankle injury last week with Kyle Howkins deputising.

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But Pearce looks set to be fit this weekend to leave boss Evans with a central defensive headache.

“He has trained for a couple of days, so Krystian will be available,” said Evans.

“But George Taft played in a practice match on Monday and I thought he was outstanding.

“So from that point of view we have good options.

“Tafty is pressing to start – he’s been that good in the practice match and that good in training. But we’ll make an informed decision after training today and tomorrow.

“As I always do, I will sit down with the staff and pick what we think we have to do to win the game against a decent Exeter side. It may be a change of shape, a change of personnel.”

He added: “George is desperate to play. But I’ve got to separate that to look at a measurement across the three.

“Is Krystian fully 100 per cent? We have to take a judgement call when we sharpen our training work up.

“Kyle has trained really well too. But watching Tafty in training, he has really been a beacon of light.

“However, whether we want to put him into such a big game at this stage remains to be seen.

“But they are all big games now and he’s going to play in some of them, so it could be Saturday or it may be another one.

“Those three are all peas in a pod, all 6ft 3ins, big, strong, aggressive and attack the ball, but George is a bit different in that he’s naturally left-sided.

“If he trains in a sharp way today and tomorrow we have to make sure that sharpness says he is ready to play – if he is then we will consider one from three.”

Evans must also decide who will be back-up keeper.

With Jake Kean starting at the moment, a fit-again Scott Shearer, after a virus last week, means he is back to challenge Brian Jensen.

“Scott is back around, so he should be good to go,” said Evans.

“We’ll have a look at that. Brian Jensen has trained particularly well too.

“When we played Scott we left Brian out for a while. Then Jake came in and Brian wasn’t making the bench, but it was often a close call.

“Brian has sat on the bench for a couple of games now and we’ve won, so maybe why change it?”

Skipper Lee Collins should also be back in the squad.

“Lee has trained for a couple of days so we’re almost on a full house,” said Evans.

“But Paddy Hoban will miss a little bit, he’s got a little bit of a strained knee.”