With Luke Jones now looking likely to be out for the season and Ollie Palmer also sidelined amid two training ground injuries this week, Stags boss Paul Cox again needs to go cap in hand to the board for new players.
Cox had nine first teamers injured, skipper Adam Murray suspended and several out on the pitch in the fine 0-0 home draw with Cambridge today who haven’t trained all week or with pain-killing injections into injuries.
The home side could only muster five for the seven subs’ bench spots.
And the serious training ground injury suffered by Jones, yet to kick a ball this season, left a new shadow over the club.
Cox said: “I thought we were down to the bare bones early in the season, but I was just glad to get 11 out there today after what has happened in training this week. I wish it had been a five-a-side game.
“It’s been a tough week, so credit to the players, they were tremendous today.
“We had a couple out there with painkilling injections to get them onto the pitch.
“We were up against a team today that has been bulldozering teams of late. So I thought our first half performance was excellent without really affecting their goal, though I thought we should have had a stonewall penalty.
“We did look tired in the second half, but there were a lot of tired bodies out there, some who hadn’t trained all week.
“A lot of them were running on empty. The boys gave everything for the cause and deserve a massive pat on the back.
“Now we need some help. We seem to be taking two steps forward and then three or four back in terms of getting bodies back on the pitch.
“We can’t keep carrying on this situation without there being a massive downturn in performances and results.
“We need to look at squad size and the way we go about things.”
On Jones’ injury, believed to be a ruptured Achilles’ tendon that will keep up out for four to six months, he added: “I am gutted for the kid. He will be a massive miss for us as he is such a colossus.
“He was running towards the ball and there was a clicking and snapping noise and he was left in excruciating pain.
“Jonesy is not a squealer. It was horrible for everyone and I think it affected everyone psychologically. The session ended there and then with the lads all visibly upset and Luke screaming in pain on the floor. They are all human beings.
“I am so glad we kept our concentration today as we really could have gone out there and got thumped.”
Cambridge boss Richard Money said: “The first half was about putting ourselves in a position to take control of the game, which I thought we then did in the second half but just couldn’t find a finish.
“We hit the post twice and the keeper made a couple of good saves, but we couldn’t get a goal, despite lots of good play.
“To think you are going to dominate a game for 90 minutes is nonsense, but performances are good at the minute.
“We look confident on the ball, we look as though we have good movement and a goal threat, and everyone is working hard to keep our shape and discipline.
“We defended well and restricted Mansfield to few chances, mainly because we kept our shape and composure on the ball.
“It’s an old adage in football, but you need the ball to score and we tried to make sure they didn’t have it.”
To read the match report click HERE