Blank weekend frustration as Mansfield Town play it safe over missing key defenders

Krystian Pearce.
Krystian Pearce.

Mansfield Town face a frustrating blank weekend and playing even more catch-up after calling off their big home clash with Grimbsy Town this Saturday.

But manager David Flitcroft said he could not have risked going into the match minus two of his three key defenders – and he had three others on the injury list too.

Ryan Sweeney and skipper Krystian Pearce are two of the three players called up for international duty, along with winger/forward Omari Sterling-James.

Flitcroft said: “It’s just one of those things. To have three internationals playing in League Two is unusual.

“And it is more logistically the positions of those players that have warranted the game being called off.

“The way the internationals fell, it’s two centre halves who have been key to keeping one of the best defensive records in the league. That is the difficulty in itself.

“I have not utilised Omari much this season, but Pearce is in really good form and Sweeney has been outstanding since he came in. You’d be taking away two of the back line.”

Flitcroft said it had been touch and go if Hayden White was going to be fit for the weekend as back-up which was another big factor in calling the game off. In the end he made his comeback in midweek.

“Whitey was a doubt,” he said. “There was a sanction on that you had to let Grimsby know by a certain time and Whitey only got through training about that time to come through.

“I also have Bish (Neal Bishop) who is suspended and Alex MacDonald out plus Craig Davies.”

Grimsby usually fill the away end for a game that has a ‘local derby’ rivalry to it, but if the game is rearranged for a Tuesday night it could see a lower away attendance and drop in income.

It is the second game postponed for call-ups this season and piles the pressure on Mansfield to win them to get themselves into a truer position in the table.

“The difficulty is when the Crewe game was off we tried desperately to fit it in as soon as we could,” said Flitcroft.

“But it was proving really difficult from Crewe’s end.

“When you get international call-ups you hope both teams want to play the game really quick. But Crewe didn’t.

“So you are waiting and waiting to try to catch those three points up.”

Sweeney has been called up to the Republic of Ireland U21s, who face Israel today (Thursday) and Germany next Tuesday in the UEFA European U21 Championship.

Pearce is set to represent Barbados in a CONCACAF Nations League Qualifier against El Salvador on Saturday while St Kitts & Nevis have selected forward Sterling-James in their squad for their CONCACAF Nations League Qualifier at Saint Marteen on Sunday.

Sterling-James has also been called up for St Kitts & Nevis when they play Canada on 18th November.