With Saturday’s big local derby against Notts County looming large, Mansfield Town boss Adam Murray is likely to make his permitted six changes for tonight’s second Checkatrade EFL Trophy group game at Port Vale.
Murray saw Danny Rose suffer a fractured eye socket and Kyle Howkins a hamstring injury in their opening 2-0 home defeat by Doncaster Rovers in this much-maligned competition on 30th August.
Jamie McGuire also limped off in that game, but the knock didn’t prove as serious as first thought, while Rose has continued to play wearing a protective mask over his eye injury.
So it’s no surprise Murray will want to wrap some of his squad up in cotton wool for the visit of County on Saturday when they make their first trip to Vale Park for 14 years tonight.
“The last time we entered this competition, with all due respect to it, we ended up with some very severe injuries and we lost people through it. It affected out rhythm,” said Murray.
“Before that we were doing very well. So we will have to deal with it.
“We’ve had a consistent two games now so we’re going to be very careful. “We’ll play certain people, we’ll rest certain people but I’m not going to hide the fact that I don’t like this game.
“I think it, for teams like ourselves with ‘smallish’ squads and not much resources, our focus has to be the League.
“So it’s a game of football that you obviously go into and want to win, but we’ve got a massive ‘rock’n’roller’ next Saturday.
“Grimsby’s like half a local derby to us – Notts County’s the local derby so we’re preparing, we’ll rest up and we’ll deal with the week as we have to.”
Jack Thomas and Howkins have returned to training this week after injury but are unlikely top be fit enough to play as yet.
The Valiants are in the League One play-off position after five wins from their opening 11 games.
Before Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to bottom-of-the-league Coventry City, Vale did boast a 100 percent home record after wins over Southend United, Scunthorpe United, Rochdale, Gillingham and Millwall, as well as a 1-0 victory over Derby County’s academy side in their previous Checkatrade Trophy fixture.
Vale boss Bruno Ribeiro said he would make six changes for the visit of the Stags because ‘some players are very tired and need rest.’
Striker Anton Forrester made his return from a muscle injury at half-time on Saturday, but was forced off just eight minutes later after breaking down with a recurrence of that injury so in unlikely to figure.
Stags complete their group games with an away game against Derby County’s academy side next month.