JOE O`NEILL SIGNS ON 3 MONTH LOAN
O'Neill signs for three months
PRESTON striker Joe O'Neill has joined Mansfield Town on a three-month loan and is expected to make his debut against Bristol Rovers at Field Mill in the League Two season opener on Saturday (3pm).
O'Neill, who had impressed in a couple of appearances on trial, was due to sign the short-team deal after training today (Thursday).
But, if he does well, there is every chance manager Keith Curle will press for something more permanent.
"I am hoping that, if he performs to the level he can and will do, I will make the move a permanent one," said Curle.
"We've not gone that far in discussions with Preston yet - we'll have to see how it goes.
"But Joe has blended in well here and has the right physical attributes for the way we play.
"His movement, his awareness and his contribution as a team player are excellent and I am confident he will score goals.
"We know the lad has got potential but no one is prepared to put a figure on that just now.
"Having him for three months will give us a proper opportunity to have a really good look at him, both in training and playing League football.
"It could be that, if he does particularly well, we may try to talk to Preston earlier than the end of the three month loan."
O'Neill spent last season on loan at Bury.
Strikers Chris Tate and Marvin Robinson both returned to training this morning after shaking off injuries, but neither will be in contention for Saturday.
Curle is looking to play them in a youth team friendly tomorrow evening at Clipstone.
He added: "I now know my starting XI and will tell the players tomorrow. I didn't know it yesterday, but I sat down with John Gannon and the rest of my coaching staff and listened to their opinions and told them mine.
"As the manager the responsibility then lay with me to pick the final selection."
New-look Rovers arrive with 10 new signings - including former Stags ace Craig Disley - and a new boss in Ian Atkins.
"The one thing you know about any side managed by Ian Atkins is that it will be organised, disciplined and can be frustrating for the opposition," said Curle.
"They will be patient and try to hit us on the break.
"There will be lots of twists and turns over the season and there is a lot of luck involved with the timings of injuries and suspensions.
"But we have 46 games to get promotion and we will take each one as it comes."
After the Rovers game, Stags will prepare to visit Atkins' old club Oxford United on Wednesday evening.
Craig Disley faces a race against time to be fit to face his former club on Saturday.
Disley, who moved to Rovers in the summer on a free transfer after spending his whole career at Field Mill, hurt his ankle during pre-season.
Rovers scheduled two more warm-up games organised this week, one yesterday (Tuesday) and one tomorrow (Thursday) in which Disley was hoping to prove his fitness as were Steve Elliott (tonsilitus) and former Stags transfer target Lee Thorpe (groin).
However, Disley was not fit enough to play in the first one and has been told that he will not be rushed back too soon just because he is going back to Mansfield.
New Rovers boss Ian Atkins has been a busy man on the transfer front this summer with Disley one of 10 signings brought in before last weekend.
Richard Walker (Oxford), James Hunt (Oxford), Craig Hinton (Kidderminster), Steve Elliott (Blackpool), Stuart Campbell (Grimsby), Jamie Forrester (Hull), Paul Trollope (Northampton) and Robbie Ryan (Millwall) have all come in while former Sheffield Wednesday, Plymouth and Macclesfield defender Jon Beswetherick has been given a three-month contract.
Newcomer Clive Oliver will referee at Field Mill on Saturday after being promoted to the national list in the summer.
The 41-year-old, from Northumberland, is part of the first ever father and son to be on the League officials list after his son, Michael (19), was also promoted to the League's assistant referee list.
The new-look Mansfield Town matchday programme is promised to be bigger and better than ever on Saturday.
The 64-page programme will include new features such as Famous Football Fans, 30 Years of PFA Awards, Visitors' Dream Team and Divisional Round-up. It will be priced at £2.50.
Field Mill's long awaited supporters' bar also makes its League debut this Saturday.
But membership for the new 300 capacity facility under the West Stand is already sold out.
It is only for use by Stags Supporters Association members who have taken out a special bar membership as well.
More memberships may become available after the SSA have gauged numbers using it.
It will be open before and after the game and will also have light snacks on sale.
On non-match days it will be available for general private hire - call Clare Kenworthy on 01623 482482 for more details.
STRIKER SET TO JOIN STAGS
Evening Post, 05 August 2004
Preston striker Joe O'Neill is poised to sign a short-term loan deal with Mansfield Town today.
And Stags boss Keith Curle wants to convert the loan into a permanent move.
A few minor details need to be ironed out, but the two clubs have agreed that O'Neill will start the season at Field Mill.
"I'm hoping that will be a three-month deal with a view to a permanent move," said Curle.
If O'Neill does sign, the 21-year-old will probably not be allowed to play against Craig Brown's side in the Carling Cup clash between the two sides on August 24.
Meanwhile, the Stags are still waiting for a date for the tribunal hearing to decide how much compensation they will receive for Liam Lawrence's move to Sunderland.
Curle wants £250,000 for the 22-year-old midfielder.
Latest | August 2004