Depleted Mansfield Town are hoping for a triple boost this week as Martin Riley, Chris Clements and Ryan Tafazolli look set to be back from injury in time for Saturday’s tough trip to big-spending high-flyers Fleetwood Town (3pm).
Injuries and suspensions have cost Stags dearly recently and they are now without a win in seven League outings.
But the centre half Riley and midfield playmaker Clements have been particularly missed and they could also be joined in the squad by Tafazolli and possibly even more recent injury victims Ollie Palmer and Ben Hutchinson, who have made better-than-expected progress.
Riley, Clements and Tafazolli all came through the full 90 minutes of a 4-0 defeat in a behind-closed-doors friendly away to a very strong Huddersfield Town side today and Cox will now hoping there is no bad reactions for any of tomorrow.
But Stags will be without suspended former Fleetwood midfielder Jamie McGuire who was shown Stags’ sixth red card of the campaign in Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat by Oxford.
“We do need to learn to keep 11 men on the pitch,” said boss Paul Cox. “But, although I don’t want to bleat on about it, we have had the worst injury list since I came to the club and we lost the spine of the side from the start of the season.
“So it would be a massive boost for us to get these players back this weekend. We have had to dig deep and go into the loan market, but everyone always wants to play their best XI.”
He added: “Fleetwood will be a tough game, but six to eight weeks ago we were up there with them and we need to get back there and back to the standards, ethics, morals and everything that had us winning football matches. We need to stop making silly errors.
“But I can’t ever remember everything being rosy throughout a whole season. It’s the human element. Players are human and they feel pressure, they feel hurt, they lose form, they get ill and they lose confidence.
“There are so many ups and downs. But it’s all about mindset in the end. Start believing the hype and that you have arrived and that’s when the wheels come off.”
Fourth-placed Fleetwood were knocked off top spot by a last minute goal at struggling Northampton last weekend and have already lost three times at home.
Stags face another trip then on Tuesday when they head to 11th-placed Burton Albion, who have just lost two League games on the bounce after three straight wins.