Mansfield Town will today wait anxiously on results of scans on injuries sustained by Liam Hearn and Martin Riley in last night’s 2-1 Capital One Cup defeat at League One Sheffield United.
Stags lost the game to a heartbreaking 86th minute goal, but left Bramall Lane far more concerned by the two latest knocks which leaves their small squad down to 14 fit outfield players and two keepers.
Fans and management alike held their breath as, only 15 minutes after kick-off, Hearn clutched the knee in which he wrecked the cruciate ligaments last November as he made his first proper start in 10 months and left the field.
Then Riley also went off with a groin injury.
However, Hearn raised hopes today when he said the knee had improved this morning and manager Paul Cox said: “We are hoping Liam isn’t that bad.
“It felt a hell of a lot better this morning but we’ve still sent him for a precautionary scan.
“Hopefully it’s not too much to worry about. He may be all right for Saturday which would be a massive plus, though we must make sure there is no damage.
“But it is not his old injury, I think he just fell awkwardly with their left back.
“It can be psychosomatic after long term injuries. It can be the subconscious and these things are sometimes not there. Hearny is so desperate to do well. Sometimes it can be your biggest battle and that’s why we’ve been bedding him in as he is so important to us this season.
“Supporters have seen pre-season he is a natural goalscorer who, if we keep him fit, can affect the goalscoring charts.”
On Riley, he added; “I don’t think it’s too serious. But, like an muscle injury, Riles will need time to recover.
“It was a bit sore this morning and he must be a massive doubt for Saturday.”
Adam Murray and Liam Marsden both sat out last night with knocks but could be back in contention on Saturday.
And there was more promising news on striker Ollie Palmer, who missed last night after hurting his ankle at Northampton on Saturday and was expected to be out for up to three weeks.
He was back running on it yesterday and has an outside chance of being in the squad on Saturday.
Stags also welcomed defender Luke Jones back from injury onto the bench last night.
Striker Matt Rhead completes his four-game ban on Saturday and will be back in contention when Newport visit on Tuesday.