Will Stags have to face '˜The Beast' tomorrow?
Whether man-mountain Ade Akinfenwa is fit or not, Mansfield Town know exactly what to expect when Wycombe Wanderers visit One Call Stadium tomorrow night (7.45).
The giant striker missed Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Newport County with a slight hamstring injury, but he was replaced by teenage Charlton loanee Josh Umerah, who is of similar build and allows Wycombe to stick to their direct style of play.
The Stags will be looking to build on Saturday’s fine 4-1 home win over Grimsby Town and make it six home points in four days to propel themselves into the play-off spots.
On Akinfenwa, known as ‘The Beast’, Evans said: “I love the big fellow.
“People around football knock him but I can only praise him.
“He has been a thorn in every one of my team’s sides for sure as he has for most teams.
“The best way to deal with him is kidnap him and take him away to the beach for a day half-an-hour before kick-off!
“If he is here it’s another dimension they have.
“But I watched the full re-run of their 0-0 in Newport on Saturday and they have another young man who plays in a very similar way to big ‘Ake’ anyway
“The one thing they won’t change is their style of play. “They will go in nice and early to the big fellow and they will play on the second balls.”
Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth said: He added: “Bayo had a slight hamstring pull but we hope to have him back.
“We were looking after him all week before this game and it was touch and go but he just missed out.
“We know how important Bayo is for us but to play like that without is great. As I say Josh in particular looked a real threat and we have options which is fantastic.”
Evans made three changes to his side on Saturday and expects more changes tomorrow.
“It isn’t a case of rotating the squad but it’s a case of picking the best team to beat Wycombe,” he said.
“We’ve not discussed it yet but I certainly have got it in my mind to be changing it around a little bit from where we were on Saturday.
“We have got some good players. We made some big decisions on Saturday with Mal (Benning) coming out as his form had dipped a little bit.
“Paul Anderson’s form hadn’t dipped, neither had Will Atkinson. But they had played almost every minute of every game and worked so hard for the team that they had to have a little break and we brought some freshness in.
“To be honest I did try to get Calum Butcher into the team as he is such a wonderful talent. When he is fully settled in he will be one of the best players in the league.”
He added: “We are in good shape though we have a virus in the camp which saw me off for a day or two and Paul Raynor at the back end of last week.
“The goalie coach has been down with it too and one or two players are wheezing a little bit.
“But hopefully in the main we’ll keep that away and have everyone to choose from. It’s a wonderful position to be in.”
Evans is a big fan of Ainsworth, his opposite number tomorrow night.
“Gareth is a good friend of mine and a man I have enormous respect for. I really like him as a person,” he said.
“I read his words very carefully in pre-season when he made a couple of very astute signings for me and said he expected his team to challenge.
“I see no reason in the early season why that won’t be the case. When he says challenge, that will be a top three aim for Gareth.
“I know the chairman there very well, too, and they are a good club – a well run club and the supporters down there get right behind them.
“Players give you a promotion challenge. Gareth has put a good squad together and he is the leader of that orchestra.”