PREVIEWS AND TEAM NEWS
D'JAFFO SIGNING BOOSTS STAGS
BY STEVIE RODEN, Evening Post
Mansfield have boosted their strike force by signing ex-Sheffield United forward Laurent D'Jaffo as they search for a turnaround in form.
The Stags have lost three of their last four games and Keith Curle has been looking to bolster his squad with seven tough games this month, starting this evening against Torquay.
And the Mansfield manager revealed he is also chasing the loan signing of former fans' favourite Chris Greenacre, who helped fire the club to promotion two years ago.
Curle admitted he had been chasing the 26-year-old for six weeks but Stoke told him he was unavailable for loan. But now the First Division outfit have changed their mind and Curle is hoping to speak to the player about a possible move.
However, he faces stiff competition as Sheffield Wednesday and two other clubs also want the striker's signature and Curle admits he will have to wait to see what happens.
But in the meantime 33-year-old D'Jaffo, who had his contract at Aberdeen cancelled by mutual consent earlier this season, will be available for this evening's clash.
And Curle believes the big striker, who has just returned from African Nation's Cup duty with Benin, will be able to help Mansfield get back to winning ways.
Curle said: "I know Laurent from Sheffield United but I also played against him a few times and I always knew I had been in a game.
"He is experienced and knows how to play that centre forward role. He is big, physical and brings players into the game. He has a big presence about him and we now have him until the end of the season.
"We have had him in training to make sure he is firing on all cylinders and although he is not going to be 100% match fit, he will play a part this evening and he will do a job for us and, hopefully, help us achieve promotion."
Meanwhile Curle is waiting to speak to Greenacre, who scored 58 times in 125 appearances for Mansfield, to try to persuade him to come back to Field Mill on loan.
Curle said: "They are now going to allow him to go out on loan to get some games under his belt to get his confidence back and into the habit of scoring.
"I am waiting to see if I can speak to Chrissy but I know other clubs are interested. I cannot hang on waiting for too long as the games are coming thick and fast and I need the players who want to play for Mansfield Town."
Tonight's visitors Torquay are in fine form, winning seven of their last eight games to move to fourth in the table, one place above Mansfield.
Curle admits his players are lacking confidence but backs them to return to form.
He said: "The reaction of the players in training has been superb and I know individually and collectively there is more to come but, at the minute, they are lacking confidence.
"They seem to step up a gear when we go one or two goals down. But I have told them there is more to fight for at 0-0 than when you are 1-0 down.
"We are being punished for the mistakes we make and we have to stop making them. We have belief in their ability and now they have to show the same and get a result."
Iyseden Christie picked up a knock on the knee but should be fit and Tom Curtis could feature following a cartilage operation.
Stags: Pilkington, Hassell, Vaughan, Day, Artell, Corden, Disley, Lawrence, Curtis, D'Jaffo, Christie. Subs: J White, Dimech, Williamson, Mendes, Larkin.
Torquay Herald Express:
'STUDENT' BOSSES HEAD TO HEAD
Leroy Rosenior and Keith Curle, two promising young "students" of management, will pit their talents against each other as Torquay United take on Mansfield Town with vital promotion points at stake at Field Mill tonight (7.45pm).
Rosenior and former Gulls winger Curle are pupils together on an ongoing Soccer Management course run by Warwick University.
"We see each other quite regularly, as Leroy is on the same course as me," reported Curle.
"He's a very enthusiastic person and he likes to play football the right way.
"Torquay are flying at the moment.
"We were doing pretty well and they weren't going that well when they turned us over (1-0) down there in October, so maybe the boot can be on the other foot now."
Rosenior commented: "I've known Keith for many years, not just because of the course, and we get on very well.
"I'll buy him a drink tonight - after the match!"
Curle has responded to a run of three defeats in four games by signing French-born former Bury, Sheffield United and Aberdeen targetman Laurent D'Jaffo to add some beef to his attack.
D'Jaffo, 33, has been playing recently for Benin in the African Nations Cup after being released by Aberdeen, but he has not played any league football for nearly a year.
Fifth-placed Mansfield are also hoping to bring their promotion-winning (2002) striker Chris Greenacre back from First Division Stoke on loan.
That move may still happen, but not in time for tonight's match.
United, who head for Nottinghamshire coal country in fourth place on a run of seven wins in eight games, may well be unchanged.
Rosenior has no new injuries to worry about.
And even midfielder Jason Fowler, who missed Saturday's 2-0 home win over Boston with a niggling back/hip problem, is reported fit enough to travel.
"Jason has improved a lot," says Rosenior, who will certainly need the ex-Bristol City and Cardiff player when Tony Bedeau starts a three-match ban in 11 days' time.
"Tony has got a suspension next week, but it's too far ahead to start worrying about what we'll do then.
"Take each game as it comes - that's our way.
"Mansfield are a good footballing side, with some dangerous, young players who are getting more experienced very quickly.
"It's going to be a very difficult game."
The Stags and the Gulls are the only two teams to win at Hull, which is something for them both to be proud of.
But having lifted themselves into a position where they looked nailed-on for promotion straight after relegation, Mansfield have hit a bit of a blip.
United's own surge in form has seen them move ahead and Mansfield must win tonight to regain fourth spot.
Town's 58 goals-for total is bettered only by top two Doncaster (63) and Hull (60), but they have conceded 10 goals in the last four matches.
They are just starting a make-or-break spell in which they meet Torquay, Hull (H), Lincoln (A), Oxford (H), Swansea (H) and Yeovil (A) all in March.
The experiment of playing Maltese defender Luke Dimech in central midfield did not work at Cheltenham on Saturday, when the improving Robins won 4-2.
Curle may well make a change there. He is waiting to see if the experienced Tom Curtis is fit enough to return after surgery to repair a cartilage problem.
This should be an illuminating night all-round.
The four clubs currently in the Play-Offs meet - Mansfield play Torquay and Huddersfield entertain Yeovil.
But leaders Doncaster travel to Rochdale, who are gradually picking up under Steve Parkin, and struggling Macclesfield will be desperate for points at home to Lincoln (8th).
Oxford (3rd) also play York at the Kassam Stadium tomorrow night.
Mansfield Town from: Pilkington; Buxton, Day, Artell, Vaughan, Disley, Lawrence, Dimech, Corden, Mendes, Christie, D'Jaffo, Pacquette, Hassell, Larkin, White, Williamson, Curtis.
Torquay United from: Dearden; Canoville, Woods, Taylor, McGlinchey, Bedeau, Hockley, Russell, Hill, Graham, Kuffour, Gritton, Fowler, Van Heusden (gk), Hazell, Woozley, Broad, Wills, Benefield and Bond.
Officials: Referee - Tony Leake (Lancs); Assistants - Allan Rawcliffe (Gtr Manchester) and Chris Sarginson (Staffs).
Latest | March 2004