Baggies test as Howkins eyes up weekend Stags return

Mansfield Town's Kyle Howkins'Picture by Dan Westwell
Mansfield Town's Kyle Howkins'Picture by Dan Westwell

Loanee Kyle Howkins will come back into contention for Mansfield Town’s home clash with Hartlepool United on Saturday if he comes through a midweek West Brom U23s game.

The giant centre half is trying to come back from a knee injury sustained against Oldham last month and Stags boss Steve Evans is expecting fellow centre half George Taft back a week later after both joined in training today.

“Both of them are stepping it up this week,” he said.

“Young Howkins will play in a game this week so he’s a bit further forward than George.

“George will be back up to full speed next Monday. He is back in the group today for quite a bit of it, but he will need a week of intense training before he goes right into the group.

“But I have still got players there that can play defensive roles. Collins can go back there, McGuire can go back there, Baxendale can play there, so we are good for cover.

“I just want competition to be in the team and competition to be on the bench. “

Stags’ reserves have a game up at Hartlepool United tomorrow, but Evans said: “Kyle will play a game for West Brom U23s. I had the choice from Tony Pulis to do either and the reason I’ve chosen that is he will play against better opposition than Hartlepool reserves. It’s as simple as that.

“I want Kyle to be up to speed very quickly. Last time he almost went straight into the starting line-up and we got Kyle very fit over that three or four game period.

“We have four or five games very quickly and he got himself match sharp, and I said to Tony it was a shame with the tackle as he was just starting to look the type of defender that I know he would like over there.

“Touch wood, hopefully he will come through that game with no issues and he can come back into contention for the weekend.”

On Taft he added: “If I am being truthful, probably George would come into contention for Grimsby away.”