Adam Murray has to decide if he should risk bringing back talented left back Mal Benning into the Mansfield Town side for tonight’s tough trip to Morecambe.
The defender has only had one full week’s training since suffering a nasty knee injury in mid-October, but is naturally very fit and, with no reserve team, Stags boss Murray admitted he is tempted to throw him back in with no chance of a midweek friendly.
“He is close, very close” said Murray. “It was touch and go if we played him in the friendly at Solihull last week. When we got there the pitch was hard and the game got called off after 60 minutes.
“But Mal has joined in training and doesn’t look as if he’s been away to be honest. In terms of match fitness we are going to have to take one on the chin in that he is going to have to get fit playing.”
If and when Benning returns, it does give Murray the option of playing Fulham loanee Sean Kavanagh on the left of midfield.
Kavanagh had to be drafted in at the 11th hour last week after Blair Adams, who had been covering Benning’s absence, unexpectedly returned to parent club Notts County.
Murray added: “Adi Yussuf also needs match fitness now which we are trying to organise. We’re going to have to run the risk to the end of the season of playing friendlies as we need everyone ready. We have no choice now.
“The header Adi had on Saturday he should score. That puts you 2-1 with 15 minutes to go and gives you a bit of a kick. But because of his lack of matches and his lack of game time that’s an instinct for a centre forward. We are going to have to put games in.”
Stags have a couple of players needing fitness tests today.
“We did take a couple of bangs on Saturday that are going to be late calls, but apart from that we are good,” he said.
With so much pressure on Stags for their poor home form, Stags have the relief of a couple of away games this week.
But Murray, who took personal abuse on Saturday after the game, said he couldn’t wait to return to One Call Stadium and sort out the problems there.
“I want to get back at home,” he said. “My life has been a constant battle. I’ve been to the bottom of life, so I love fighting. So I want to get back here and have it again.
“At some point we’ve got to put it right. At some point the players have got to stand up and go – come on, let’s get this started. Home form is a pain in the backside at the minute.
“We have got quite a few away games coming up which might work in our favour. We want to go on a run now of winning football matches, however we have to do that we will do it.
“It’s tough for me as I want to play a certain way. Sometimes this league is unforgiving – you saw what Wimbledon did to us last week.
“Luton put two balls into our box on Saturday and scored. It’s all right playing great football and having lots of possession. We had more shots than them but we were not effective enough and we lack that bit of quality. They had four shots and scored two goals.”
Morecambe are just three places and three points behind a Stags side that have just lost two League games on the bounce for the first time all season.
“They have been playing 4-2-3-1 at home and they attack. So they will cause us problems,” said Murray.
“But as far as I am concerned, we just need to get back to being ourselves and settle the ship a little bit as, it shouldn’t be, but it’s rocking. That’s my job and it won’t be a problem.
“We will respect Morecambe. We know they’ve got a lot of strengths, but it’s about us.
“We are going up in the morning, we’ll have a team meeting, get the travel out the way, then prepare to play.
“I know we will have our tremendous away support that will follow us, so we want to give them something to go home with as that is an horrendous journey for them on a Tuesday night. We appreciate that. That will play a big part for us.
“For 70 per cent of the game on Saturday our fans were brilliant. Even at 2-0 down you can hear them on the DVD getting behind us, even though they are getting frustrated.”