Roberts hopes for Stags recall for derby day at Alfreton

MIDFIELD ace Gary Roberts is back in the frame for Mansfield Town’s big local derby at Alfreton Town tomorrow night (Tuesday, 7.45pm) after completing his two-match suspension.

But, with midfield pair Adam Murray and Anthony Howell impressive in Saturday’s stunning 7-0 slaughter of Barrow at Field Mill, manager Paul Cox now has a selection headache with the availability of Roberts.

“What a nice problem to have for me as Gary is one of the better players in this league and probably the one above us too,” said manager Paul Cox.

“I will watch everyone in training and make up my mind. But you always miss a player of Gary’s ability when he is not available.”

It is a big decision. Howell will be desperate to retain his shirt and return to show his former club how he has progressed while skipper Adam Murray, who is battling on with an ankle injury at the moment, is always ready to run through a brick wall for the club.

Cox added: “Anthony will want to play against his old club. He will be looking forward to it and he has go to stay focused on the job and do what he is good at.”

Stags have now won six and drawn one in seven impressive displays to go third. But Alfreton are also one of the in-form sides in the division, having battled their way out of the relegation zone with only one defeat in six games and three successive wins, the last two away from home without conceding.

So Cox warned: “I would never want anyone not to enjoy football and winning as winning is a tough thing to do.

“But you have to keep your feet firmly planted on the floor as no one has success in March. We must make sure we are focused and keep our discipline and mindset which is what has got us where we are.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game tomorrow, not just because it’s a local derby, but because Alfreton’s form of late has been excellent and Nicky Law has done a great job.

“We are under no illusions. We have to go into it in the right frame of mind, if not, everything can come undone very easily. There are very fine margins between success and failure in this league.

“We need as many supporters to travel there as we can to get behind the boys. Our supporters have been immense this season.”

Cox has loan irons in the fire ahead of Thursday’s final transfer deadline of the season, but admitted: “I won’t bring in anyone for the sake of it.

“They have to create real competition for places and keep other players on their toes.”

Defender John Thompson is now back in the swing of full-time training and just desperately needs a game which Cox is hoping a League club may provide either home or away sometime this week.