Injury worries ahead of Stags' big Cup clash
FIRST Division Burnley stand between Mansfield Town and a place in the FA Cup fourth round at Field Mill this Saturday (3pm).
But Stags do have a few injury headaches ahead of the big game.
Liam Lawrence, Iyseden Christie and Dave Artell are all fit again , but full backs Tony Vaughan and Bobby Hassell could both miss out.
Left back Vaughan has been ruled out for a couple of weeks already with a rib injury and now right back Bobby Hassell is a major doubt with a hamstring strain.
Also Craig Disley has a back strain which is causing him problems.
The game represents a weeks' break from the pressures of the Third Division promotion chase and the chance for Keith Curle's men to test themselves against a side from two divisions above them.
"The beauty of the FA Cup is that both teams will get chances on the day and it only takes a bit of luck to spring an upset," said manager Keith Curle.
"We have had Burnley watched three times and they are very strong in attack and a very good team with quality players.
"They have been encamped in the First Division for a long time now and are quite deserving of being there.
"But they will be very cautious about coming here for a one-off game against us as they know anything could happen.
"I gave the lads Monday off. We will spend the rest of the week focusing them physically, mentally and tactically for the game.
"It's an opportunity for the lads to go out and enjoy their football."
Burnley certainly won't be relishing their trip to Field Mill. After a mini revival saw them go four games unbeaten they have now lost four successive games, conceding 11 goals in the process and sit just one place above the relegation berths.
Burnley manager Stan Ternent warned his side will need to be on their guard to avoid an upset. He said: "If we aren't 100 per cent committed and not ready for the game, we will lose.
"We have to match them in every single position because they will fancy their chances. We need to win a game and Saturday represents the next opportunity. That's why it's so important to us."
"I expected it to be Mansfield not Wycombe. I thought they would win the game. They are prolific scorers, but so are we and it should be an interesting game. Whatever way you look at it, this is a very big match for us. We need to progress in the cup because we need the dough and a cup run is great for morale in the camp. It's a very, very big match for us."
With both sides full of goals but also likely to concede, a goalless draw would be long odds and could be a real thriller.
The game is all-ticket to Burnley followers only. But Stags fans are asked to arrive early to avoid turnstile congestion as experienced on Boxing Day when almost 7,000 people converged on Field Mill.
CURLE: WE'RE FIRED UP FOR IT
by STEVIE RODEN
Keith Curle insists his players are fired up and capable of causing a massive FA Cup upset when they clash with First Division Burnley tomorrow.
The Stags boss is confident his players can overturn the Clarets, despite being two divisions below them.
And he said the mindset of the players all week had been to ensure they were in the fourth round draw on Sunday with the possibility of a clash with another big club.
But Curle said his side must not fear their opponents, who have lost their last four games, and instead should play their own brand of entertaining football.
Curle said: "It is the FA Cup, a one-off game that we can win if we give a good account of ourselves.
"The players are confident and so am I and they are all up for this match. Their mindset is to ensure they are in Sunday's draw.
"We will have a buoyant crowd which will help us and we are going into the game after a good Christmas run of seven points from nine."
Curle had Stan Ternent's side watched on four occasions in recent weeks to ensure he knows everything possible to help him put his gameplan together.
He said: "They have good, proven, First Division palyers. They like to pass and play and they represent their manager and assistant manager very well. They have got a passion to their game.
"It is a case of us having to stand up and be counted and stop them from playing the football they like to play.
"We have to do that and earn the right to play our own football. If that is achieved, we can win."
Mansfield will definitely be without full-back Tony Vaughan, who is out for at least a fortnight with a rib injury. Craig Disley has a back injury and Bobby Hassell is also struggling with a hamstring strain. Both are doubtful.
But on the positive side, Dave Artell has recovered from his hamstring problem and Iyseden Christie had no reaction to the hip injury that kept him out of the Rochdale match.
Stags (probable): Pilkington, Hassell, Clarke, Day, Dimech, Curtis, Williamson, Corden, Lawrence, Mendes, Christie. Subs: J White, Artell, T Curle, Beardsley, Larkin.
Mansfield manager Keith Curle has question marks hanging over the fitness of two defenders ahead of the FA Cup third-round clash with Burnley.
Tony Vaughan was left out of Sunday's 1-1 draw with Macclesfield after having picked up an ankle injury and Curle will make a late decision on whether to risk him.
He must also make his mind up whether to include Adam Eaton as he continues his slow rehabilitation from a career-threatening groin injury.
Burnley manager Stan Ternent is missing two players. Arthur Gnohere completes a two-match ban for his sending-off against Coventry, his second dismissal of the season.
Glen Little is free of suspension, having missed Sunday's defeat by Stoke, but faces three weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
Lancashire Evening Telegraph:
Stags clash is crucial
GRAHAM Branch is hoping the New Year heralds a "fresh start" for the Clarets.
The Burnley skipper ended 2003 on a sour note with an icy blast at the Turf Moor boo-boys following his costly mistake against Stoke.
But with a testing FA Cup third round tie at Mansfield next in line, followed by a series of tough First Division clashes with Crystal Palace and West Brom, Branch is anxious to wipe the slate clean and help get Burnley's faltering season back on track.
He said: "I really hope this can be a fresh start because we are going to need it. If we have another half of the season where we only collect as many points as we did in the first half, we'll be struggling.
"We've got the players and the squad, when everyone is fit, to be doing well in this league and we know that with another two or three players we would be doing very well.
"The gaffer will bring them in if and when he can, but in the meantime we have to keep plugging away because we have some hard games coming up in the new year and if we can pick up a few wins everything will look a bit healthier."
Third Division high-flyers Mansfield will fancy their chances of causing an FA Cup upset at Field Mill tomorrow.
While Burnley have recently stumbled from defeat to demoralising defeat, the Stags have picked up three wins and a draw since their FA Cup second round victory over Wycombe in mid-December.
But Branch reckons the clash with Keith Curle's men could provide exactly the tonic Stan Ternent's troops need to start 2004 on a high.
Branch, 31, added: "I think it's a good thing to have a cup tie now because if we win it gives us a shot of confidence to build on.
"Mansfield will fancy their chances after our recent run and it will be a very tricky game, but if we go there and play as we are capable of, hopefully we will come away with something because a cup run could pick the whole place up again.
Burnley will have been glad of a break after suffering at the hands of Stoke last Saturday.
A chance to recharge the batteries and re-double their efforts on the training ground could work wonders after a hectic spell of three games in nine days over the Christmas period.
Branch, who earlier this week declared himself a "jinx", said: "The football we have played in the last six or seven games has been brilliant, but we are not winning.
"It's not a big thing that needs sorting to leave us flying again, but at the moment every goal we concede compounds everything and makes life harder.
"You can see the lads heads going down, but I'm still confident we can get out of this rut if we keep playing the way we are.
"If we were mid-table, I think the fans would be happy with that, but at the moment we are finding it very hard.
"But we have the players to turn things around and if we go out with that mentality in the next game at Mansfield, things will turn. I'm 100 per cent confident of that."
Latest | January 2004