IRISH full back Joe Kendrick should make his belated Mansfield Town debut in the long-haul opening away game at Gateshead tomorrow night.
Kendrick was serving a one game ban as Stags drew 1-1 at home to Bath City in Saturday’s opener.
But boss Paul Cox has promised he won’t be making many changes with Lee Stevenson, who bagged 35 goals from midfield last season, hoping he might get in on the action as well with a debut tomorrow after being an unused substitute in the first game.
Gateshead produced a fine 3-2 win at Kidderminster Harriers in their opener on Saturday and Cox said: “I came up against Ian Bogie and Gateshead when they got promoted and I know they will always give you a tough game. They are always attack-minded and play football.
“You also have to get to grips with the stadium as there is a lack of atmosphere and the pitch feels a million miles from the stands and dug-out.
“This game has come at a fantastic time for me to get a real insight into my players’ mindsets.
“We had Gateshead watched at the weekend and they were very impressive.
“We must go up there and be resolute and earn a result. But you have to respect every club in this division and I know a point up there would be a good result.
“It’s the home games we need to win. Win those and get a point in away games and it’s championship form.”
He added: “I may look at using a different system tomorrow, though we will still be going there to win the game. And I won’t be making wholesale changes and tinkering with the side every week as players like to get used to playing alongside others regularly.
“I left Lee (Stevenson) on the bench on Saturday, but he has done well in pre-season and may come into contention.”
Cox has studied the Bath DVD and said: “There were a lot of positives on Saturday so I shouldn’t be too downbeat that we’ve drawn a football match. It is a learning curve for us
“I was frustrated but, having watched the DVD and reflected on the game in general, we should have won it and had enough chances to do so.
“But I am not downbeat. When the players came into the dressing room afterwards, you would have thought they’d lost and I had to pick them up a bit which is a nice thing for me to see.
“They were all like excited puppies beforehand as there was a big crowd. That’s the most frustrating thing – it was a chance to pick up some of those drifting fans.
“Maybe if had won it would have papered over some cracks I need to address. I know that as a team we can get an awful lot better.
“The highest this club has ever finished in this league is 10th. As a manager I have never finished below seventh. So something has to give. I have to do something no other manager has yet managed here since going down.
“If players are not doing it for me and I need to change things then the ruthless side of me will have to come out and I will move players on.”