CURLE LOOKING TO BOLSTER SQUAD FOR RUN-IN
Curle looking to bolster squad for run-in
WITH transfer deadline day just two weeks away, Stags boss Keith Curle is looking to bolster his squad for the promotion run-in.
And, if as reports from the Potteries suggest, former Stags goal ace Chris Greenacre is staying put at Stoke City, then Curle will turn his attentions elsewhere.
Richard Pacquette has returned to QPR at the end of his loan spell, but new signing Laurent D'Jaffo made an explosive debut with the winning goal against promotion rivals Hull City on Saturday.
"Ideally I would like to get another striker, a midfield man, and one other for the final push," said Curle.
"But they have to be players of a certain quality. We won't take players for the sake of it. I have not given up on Chris Greenacre yet but I understand he is reported to have said he wants to stay and fight for his place there.
"If so, then all credit to him for the belief he has in his own ability. But these things can change quickly. You can have that belief on a Monday or Tuesday but, if by Thursday or Friday, you are not in the manager's plans, it can be disheartening.
"It sounds like Chris believes his best chance is staying in and around the club at the moment.
"If I had my whole squad all firing on all cylinders right now I wouldn't need to be looking elsewehere. But it doesn't work like that in football."
Curle has set a target of at least four points from two tough away games in four days this week as Stags look to battle their way back into automatic promotion reckoning.
Last Saturday's 1-0 home success over rivals Hull City gave the club a perfect start to a make-or-break March.
But it doesn't get any easier as Stags travel to in-form promotion hopefuls Lincoln City on Saturday (3pm), with the Imps chasing a double, before a tough trip to Gigg Lane on Tuesday (7.45pm) where Bury will want to avenge that 5-3 defeat at Field Mill.
The Lincoln game is all-ticket for Stags fans and they are selling well. They must be bought before 5pm on Friday.
"A minimum of four points should set us up nicely for the visit of Oxford next week," said Curle.
"We need to use that Hull win as a springboard for the rest of the season.
"I always knew the Hull game would be a nervy encounter. It was never going to be a feast of football.
"It was two very competent sides who didn't want to give anything away, just looking for a chink in each other's armour.
"We did the horrible side of the game well and worked hard. And it was nice to see the winning goal come from a set play that we work on at the training ground.
"It's one of those mundane things players don't enjoy working on but I believe we are now top of the set plays table for goals scored."
Curle is delighted new boy D'Jaffo has made an immediate impact.
"Laurent has a presence which you can already see in the changing room and there is more to come from him," he said.
"He can fit into sides quickly with his experience and, as a team, I thought we got another yard out of most players which you sometimes get when you bring in a new face.
"Iyseden Christie played well off him on Saturday and it's up to me to sort out the best blend."
D'Jaffo will certainly need a new striker partner on Saturday week as Christie's fifth booking against Hull means he will miss the Oxford clash.
But Junior Mendes is fit again after missing out last Saturday with a slight thigh injury.
Andy White and Alex John-Baptiste are also back in contention after returning from their loan spells at Burton Albion. And Curle is hoping White can learn from a veteran target man D'Jaffo.
"Andy has to be ready if his chance comes and who says he might not yet pop up with the fairytale winning goal that takes us up?" said Curle.
Colin Larkin will also be back in the picture having had to leave the substitute's bench during the game on Saturday to go to hospital after hearing his wife had been taken ill.
However, on-loan striker Pacquette has now gone back to QPR ."He certainly has a goal in him and the one he scored at York could yet prove crucual in the final reckoning," said Curle.
"But I think he needs to work on his fitness levels which isn't easy when you are out the first team. He saw just how fit the lads here are."
Curle's sole focus now is Saturday's trip to Lincoln to face a side that pulled off a 2-1 win at Field Mill two months ago to spark a run that has taken them to eighth, just five points behind sixth-placed Mansfield.
"We will show Lincoln the respect they deserve by focusing on this game," he said.
"We were going well when they came here and upset the applecart. It would be nice to go there and come home with points in return.
"We know their strengths. They play at a high tempo, get men behind the ball and get forward quickly.
"They are not scared to put the ball forward into dangerous areas with belief.
"Then we go to Bury who gave a very good account of themselves at Mansfield.
"They came here at a time when we were playing free-flowing football and scoring goals for fun.
"But they showed a never-say-die attitude and kept coming back at us. It was a game full of attractive football and goals galore. I am sure they won't allow us to play like that again without earning the right first."
Luke Dimech misses Saturday's game at Lincoln with suspension, though Dave Artell is back from a one-game ban and likely to be the straight replacement for Dimech in the centre of defence.
Midfielder Neil MacKenzie is still recovering from a knee operation and is expected back in full training on Monday to fight for a place against Oxford.
Stags Supporters Association have coach travel lined up for the games at Lincoln City and Bury this week.
For Lincoln on Saturday the coaches depart at 12.30pm, priced £6 adult, £4 U16 and £3 U10.
For Bury on Tuesday, coaches depart at 4pm and are priced £8 adult, £6 U16 and £4 U10.
To book for either trip ring the SSA Travel Hotline on 07967 689597.
MANSFIELD Town's home clash with Torquay United will now take place on Tuesday, 30th March (7.45pm).
The game was called off at the 11th hour last week after temperatures dropped quickly and the pitch began to freeze over.
Supporters who attended that original fixture and were given a voucher as they left the ground, can gain entry to this re-arranged date on production of the voucher at the relevant gates.
That means if the voucher is for West Stand Lower you can redeem it ONLY at a West Stand Lower gate.
Latest | March 2004