Football - Palmer revolution well underway

THE Carlton Palmer revolution was well and truly underway at Field Mill this week as Stags' player-manager today brought in three more new faces with another three to come.

Long-suffering Stags fans complaining over the lack of transfer activity have been knocked for six this week as faces came and went at a breakneck speed.

New faces introduced to the press yesterday were former Leicester City Irish U21 midfielder Stephen Dawson, who has signed for two years, and former Blackburn Rovers Irish U19 full back Gavin Peers, who has signed a one-year deal.

Also there was former Forest and Sheffield Wednesday star Des Walker, with 59 England caps under his belt, who is hoping to end his career with a season at Field Mill if he can prove his fitness.

Macclesfield goal ace Matthew Tipton, another great coup for the club, is due in for a medical this morning (Wednesday) before signing a two-year contract.

That's not all - a striker and goalkeeper should arrive later in the week and talks continue with a centre half.

These follow the arrivals of Adam Birchall, Gus Ulhenbeek and Jason Talbot last week. And don't forget manager Carlton Palmer also intends to play this season while Peter Shirtliff this week took up his appointment as first team coach.

Of all the new faces at Field Mill this week, one raised the biggest reaction.

The news that flamboyant former England star defender Des Walker may grace Field Mill with his playing swansong this season was music to Mansfield ears.

Former Forest, Sheffield Wednesday and Sampdoria star Walker (39) won 59 England caps and doesn't want his distinguished playing career to prematurely end the way it seemed to have done with a brief foray into coaching at Forest.

And, if he can prove his fitness to Carlton Palmer - and, more importantly, to himself, he will be a crucial part of this exciting new squad.

"I played with Des in John Sheridan's testimonial the other week and Des looked the fittest player on the pitch," said Palmer.

"The only thing you can lose at this age is the desire to do the hard work.

"But Des is a very strong-minded person and he will do the pre-season training, play some part of the pre-season games and we will take it from there.

"I learned a lot from him - he is a great defender - and his presence will benefit players like Alex John-Baptiste and Rhys Day.

"Des is a wealthy man with his own business. But, when I saw him play in that testimonial, I rang him and asked him what he was planning to do this season.

"I reminded him we were only up the road and said - how about it?

"He has had a great career and won't let himself down. If he doesn't feel he can do it he will leave it at that.

"He and I will make a decision closer to the start of the season."

Walker added: "I have the greatest respect for Carlton.

"He always gives 100 per cent and is a very honest player which is all I ask of myself and why we get along.

"My career unfortunately seemed to end a couple of years earlier than I would have liked when I started coaching at Forest.

"But you are a long time retired and I think if you can play you should play.

"I have retained a natural fitness, like Carlton, which I think is in your genes, but now I need to work as hard as anyone to get back to full fitness.

"I have never been on a football field when I haven't felt I could contribute to the team.

"Being part of a team is an honour - that's the great part about team games.

"And nothing can beat the buzz of winning a match. It is a very sweet feeling and there is no bigger high in life than winning promotion and medals.

"Carlton is bringing in a lot of talented young players here. In this day and age you need the majority of your squad to be young as you are trying to build something and instill your ways and beliefs in them.

"But you need a bit of experience alongside them to get them through as well, particularly on days when the crowd is getting restless."

Stags have pulled off a real signing coup with the capture of Macclesfield Town club captain Matthew Tipton.

The 5ft 10ins striker, who is 25 today (Wednesday), is due in for a medical this morning before signing on the dotted line.

The all-time leading goalscorer at Moss Rose, Tipton netted 14 times last season and said he was initially offered a new contract.

But he claimed that offer was withdrawn after Macclesfield's play-off failure, and Stags had to beat off competition from Bury and Darlington for his signature.

Tipton was a product of Oldham Athletic's youth system and after almost 130 games for the Latics, plus appearances for the Welsh U21s, the Bangor-born striker moved on to Macclesfield.

There he was joint top scorer in 2002/03 with 14 and top scorer in 2003/04 with 19 (including a club record 17 League goals).

"We are delighted to get Matthew," said Palmer.

"The lad is very ambitious and there were clubs higher up interested in him.

"But he liked what we told him about our own ambitions.

"By and large you get what you deserve in life. And if we work hard we will be there or thereabouts and Matthew will get himself noticed."

Another coup for Mansfield was bringing in highly promising midfielder Stephen Dawson from Leicester City

Manchester City had already cast a watchful eye over 19-year-old Dawson - a current Irish U21 international, having represented his country at U17, U18, U19 levels as well.

His departure was something of a surpise to Leicester fans, having been seen as one for the future.

But following four years at Leicester after they plucked him from Portmarnock as a youngster, the 5ft 6ins midfielder has decided to move on.

"There was a lot of competition for Stephen," said Palmer.

"First he was going to Luton, then Yeovil came in. But Stephen worked under Peter Shirtliff at Leicester and his influence proved crucial.

"The kid just wants to play and he is more than good enough.

"He is ready for first team football and really buzzing.

"He is a very good player who gets up and down the pitch well."

Fellow Dubliner Gavin Peers, a neigbour of Dawson, was recommended to the club by Birmingham boss Steve Bruce.

Right back Peers (also 19) was told he was being released by Blackburn last season and went out on trials at Blackpool, Bradford City and Rotherham United.

He then looked set to move to Northmapton until Palmer stepped in.

Once Tipton is on board, Palmer's jigsaw puzzle will be completed by a goalkeeper, another striker and a centre half.

"We are almost there with a keeper," he said. "I am waiting on a Premiership manager to come back off holiday.

"Then, provided the lad wants to come, we will have him on loan for the season.

"He is a young lad who is currently third choice, but he was out on loan at a Championship club last season.

"The only stipulation is that we play him. The Championship club would have him but can't guarantee he will start.

"I am also waiting on an answer from an experienced central defender.

"He is still under contract for another season but wants to come.

"We have made him our best offer and now it is just down to him to see if he can strike a deal with the club concerned."