Keeper worries ease for Stags

Dimitar Evtimov -Pic by: Richard Parkes
Dimitar Evtimov -Pic by: Richard Parkes

Mansfield Town’s goalkeeping worries have eased ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Cheltenham Town with Forest loanee Dimitar Evtimov having recovered from a nasty chest injection and Sasha Studer’s thigh injury much-improved.
“Sascha has had the week to get a bit more recovery in his thigh. And Dimitar has got over his illness which was quite serious,” said boss Adam Murray.

“Sascha will have another scan in the next day or two to see where we are but, hopefully he will be fit. He is feeling positive

“Dimitar had a chest infection and he had trouble breathing so was rushed to hospital. He had a bit of an episode but he is fine now and back in training.

“So, if Sasha misses out, we know we have a capable replacement in Dimitar.”

Another doubt remains centre half and skipper Martin Riley.

“Riles has a tight hamstring and has not trained all week. We will have a look at him tomorrow morning,” said Murray.

“But we do have good options back there. Luke Waterfall has not yet had the chance to show what he’s all about – he is a bit more of a no-nonsense defender. It think it will be horses for courses and we have John Dempster coming back and Ritchie Sutton, who can shift over one. They are all good players.”

With advance tickets priced only £7 Stags are expecting a bumper crowd for what will be Murray’s first game in full-time charge as Mansfield Town boss.

He is hoping the fans will make plenty of noise and get behind his side as they try to play the attractive football the supporters were clamouring for under previous boss Paul Cox.

However, he warned the change will bring the odd mistake along the way like the one made by Simon Heslop which cost Stags a goal at Cambridge last weekend.

“We have to balance our long term goal with preparing to go out and get three points,” said Murray.

“We had a debrief on Monday but I didn’t really put the blame on Simon. The way we are going about things, the lads around him needed to give him more options.

“They knew Sascha’s thigh was tight and we didn’t have to use him as much as we might. It was just one of those things. It’s a learning curve.

“You have to take some blows on the chin, keep getting up and the end product will be okay.

“I am not saying that overnight we will become a poor man’s Barcelona. We need to understand the league we are in and aim to be getting the three points.

“Everyone understands we are going from one extreme to another and there will be mistakes. But I am not so naïve as to think people will be happy if we are not picking up points. The bottom line for me, as when I was a player, is winning.”

On Cheltenham, he added: “I watched them on Sunday and know it will be a tough game. Both clubs are fighting for points. They have a new manager in Paul Buckle and he is experienced at what he does and they will be ready.

“But we need to make this a fortress. It’s up to the boys to start on the front foot and play at a tempo.

“It’s all very well asking the fans to come along on Saturday and be buoyant and lively but we have to give them something to do that.”

Murray’s appointment at the age of 33 last week makes him the youngest manager in the Football League, but he said: “I have texts from couple of managers this week saying I don’t look like I am the youngest, but I think that’s down to a lack of sleep.

“Being a manager is a different kind of intensity, a mental focus. I woke up on Sunday and I felt like I’d been playing I was that tired. It is a new path with lots of different things to deal with.”

Murray is also having to deal with the transition of leaving the dressing room as skipper to becoming the manager and finds some players are calling him gaffer while others have stuck with Muzza.

“It’s a bit of a mixture really, but I have no ego,” he smiled. “I have been in the trenches with them and I know them all inside out. As long as there is a mutual respect that’s fine.

“Everyone has a clean slate to prove they are worth wearing a Mansfield shirt. There is a transfer window coming up and if we need to bring one or two in we will.”

Murray is hopeful he will get striker Alex Fisher back from his collarbone injury next month and things he will fit perfectly into his new passing style of play.

“Alex has started running and he’s getting a bit more movement in the shoulder,” he said.

“Hopefully it will be quite a quick recovery and we will get him in action back early to mid January.

“He has got a brain and knows how to manipulate that final third of the pitch and get in the right areas to score goals. He will fit right into the picture once he’s fit.”