Light at the end of the tunnel for injury-hit Mansfield ahead of Southend visit?

editorial image

Mansfield Town are starting to see some light at the end of their injury nightmare tunnel ahead of Saturday’s visit of Southend United.

Stags have had a full team of first team players on the treatment table over the last couple of weeks, mostly with serious injuries.

But first team coach Micky Moore said today there was a chance they would have players back for the Southend game.

“The injuries do seems to be easing a little bit,” he said. “Obviously Ritchie Sutton broke his jaw last week which is a massive disappointment.

“But there does seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel and, hopefully over the next seven days, we could have two or three back.

“We will have to see how things go over the next 24 hours and I wouldn’t want to say someone will be back and then they end up not being.

“But one or two are making good progress and, if they don’t make Saturday, they may be back for the FA Cup game the week after,

“Hopefully we have had all our back luck now. We have four centre halves, four forwards and a wing back missing.

“But I hope that’s all our injuries in one spate and once we get them back I hope that will be it for the season.”

Stags had to change their usual 3-5-2 formation just before kick-off at York City last weekend after Martin Riley suffered a back spasm.

They went 4-4-2, which worked well in the 1-1 draw and is a formation a section of the Stags fans favour.

However, until Stags know what personnel they have available, Moore would not be drawn on how they may line up against Southend.

“There are a lot of debates about formation,” said Moore. “But stats show that successful teams play 3-5-2.

“You look up at the top end of our division and Luton Town play 3-5-2, Bury play 3-5-2 and Shrewsbury play it as well. Bristol City are running way with League One playing 3-5-2.

“Even Manchester United play 3-5-2 and Holland didn’t do too badly in the World Cup playing 3-5-2.

“We have played it for the last 12 months and it helped us last season massively. But it is nice to know we now have the players to be able to go back to a 4-4-2 as well with Danny Carr and Rakish Bingham able to play on the right and Rob Taylor able to come in on the left.”

Five players have a chance of a return on Saturday. Riley is the most likely after his back spasm settled down.

Ollie Palmer and Chris Clements got 75 minutes under their belt in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Monday while Simon Heslop is also making good progress.

Striker Matt Rhead is the biggest doubt as he tries to shake off a hamstring injury, rated 50-50 by Moore for Saturday.

Stags were the last team in the top five divisions to draw a game this season. But, once they did, they have now gone on a run of four successive stalemates and another draw on Saturday would equal the club record set in the mid-80s.

“It will be a difficult game for us,” said Moore. “We had Southend watched and they also play 3-5-2. To be fair to Phil Brown they were in the play-offs last year and are up there again.

“But three of our four draws have been away from home and if we can keep picking up points away and win at home, come the end of the season we will be there or thereabouts.”