FITNESS WORRIES FOR `MUST-WIN` STAGS
STAGS have more fitness worries ahead of Saturday's 'must-win' crunch at Tranmere Rovers.
Stags could have done with a clean bill of health as they take on a Tranmere side with outside hopes of a play-off spot, knowing anything other than victory will condemn them to relegation.
But it's not been that sort of season and Stags won't have a full squad available.
Player-manager Keith Curle is still struggling with a groin strain, Adam Eaton's season is over as his hernia has deteriorated this wek, Liam Lawrence is at home ill and Alex John-Baptiste has had a tooth out and has been confined to home.
"Hopefully Liam and Alex will be OK and I might be able to play some part, either helping balance the books in the first half or coming on to help shore it up later on if we are winning," said Curle.
"But Adam's season is over. He has given it his best shot and we have had everything he could give us.
"He was hoping and praying his problem would ease and let him play some part this week or next. But it has got worse since the weekend and we are now sending him to a specialist to get the operation sorted sooner than later so he can get fit and ready for next year."
Curle and the players are under no illusions as to the size of the task ahead as six points from their last two games, coupled with a host of other results needing to go for them elsewhere, is the only way they can avoid what looks certain relegation.
"This is the crunch - big time," he said. "There is certainly an atmosphere in training right now of 'bring it on.' The only thing the lads have on their minds right now is Saturday.
"They can't wait for it to come which is a good thing.
"We all have to be totally single-minded, forget elsewhere, do our individual jobs, and it will give us the best opportunity to gain the three points.
"There will be nothing worse if the teams around us lose on Saturday and we don't win. It has to be about us at the end of the day.
"If we win and the others win, then fine, there's nothing more we could have done.
Curle expects a hard encounter with a Tranmere side who have not lost in 13 games.
"They are a physical team with pace and power and like to narrow the game down and avoid open, flowing football.
"They do have a good record right now but some of those results have been draws and the run is due to come to an end.
"When Mansfield beat them 6-1 down here before I came to the club I'm told we only had about eight shots and six fizzed in which happens sometimes. If Saturday is a scrappy affair and we only win it 1-0 I'll be happy."
Latest | April 2003