CONTRACT AND INJURY NEWS: COKE, LLOYD, ARTELL
Stags trio back in contention
COLIN Larkin, Gareth Jelleyman and Alex Neil all returned to training today to give themselves a chance of playing for Mansfield Town against Grimsby Town on Saturday (3pm).
And Stags manager Carlton Palmer admitted the jury is still out on Larkin and Neil as well as Scott McNiven as far as a contract for next season is concerned.
Larkin has missed the last two games with a 'dead leg' as has Jelleyman with a slight hamstring strain while Neil came off at Kidderminster at half-time on Monday with concussion.
"Hopefully all three will come through training today and be back in the squad for Saturday," said Palmer.
"To be honest I was disappointed with Colin Larkin as, after I asked for more from him and he did so well and scored at Bristol Rovers, he has then missed the next two games with a 'dead leg'.
"I need players next season who are going to play football matches on a regular basis - you look at Colin's record here and he doesn't do that. I never missed a game through a 'dead leg' yet.
"I still have one or two other questions to be answered.
"I need to sit down and chat with Alex Neil as he has given me a real poser.
"I was going to let him go but we have had to play him in a variety of posotions and I have been delighted with his attitude.
"There is no doubt he is a terrific footballer. But I don't know what his best position is. He isn't a full back but has done well there and he's not big enough for central midfield but did well there too.
"I still have to decide on Scott McNiven too."
But Palmer confirmed that Luke Dimech, back with the squad after playing the full 90 minutes in Malta's 3-0 World Cup defeat by Croatia in Zagreb last night, will be leaving the club.
"I won't sign a player now who can only play one position and Luke cannot play full back," said Palmer. "We already have Rhys Day, Dave Artell, Alex John-Baptiste and Jake Buxton so we have more than enough cover at centre half already.
"And Adam Eaton is still on our books which is expensive and gives me a problem if the lad can't play.
"The decision is nothing to do with Luke's ability as I think he has done very well in the circumstances."
Teenage midfielders Giles Coke and Callum Lloyd have caught the eye in the last three games and Palmer has offered both of them deals until the end of next season.
"Maybe I should have got them in sooner but I needed to give other players the chance to show me if I should keep them here," he said.
"I see both Callum and Giles as squad players next season, though if Giles carries on as he is doing then I can see him being a starter for us.
"The Adam Murray decision gets easier as the days go by watching the humger and desire these youngsters are showing me. We just need some experience in there now to help them along."
Palmer has also offered one-year deals to three youth team players - striker Danny Heron and midfielders Daniel Sleath and Anton Brown, who has had an injury-plagued scholarship, suffering a broken leg and also needing a plate fitted into a foot.
Decisions on Nathan Arnold (striker) and Dominic Jones (midfield) will be made at the end of the season but all the other scholars at the end of their time have been released.
Central defender Dave Artell's return is going slower than expected - but Palmer insisted there was no hurry.
"We want Dave back fully fit and with only six games to go it would be silly to rush him.
"We had hoped he would play a reserve game next week and be available for Yeovil. But some fitness tests we did on him yesterday showed he was well short.
"We will see how he goes in training and maybe still get him 45 minutes of a game next week while stepping up his fitness work.
Fellow long term injury victim Adam Eaton may face yet another operation as a three-year nightmare continues for the left back.
"I have spoken to a surgeon in Belgium who told me he thinks what Adam needs is the same groin operation that Steve Gerrard had. Gerrard was back playing within six weeks and that is what we are hoping will happen with Adam.
Midfielder Tom Curtis is under the knife tomorrow as he has an operation on his troubled knee. It will keep him out for three months, though he is under contract for another season at Field Mill.
On-loan striker Andrew Barrowman has gone back to Birmingham City a few days early and Palmer said: "I hadn't seen the lad before and Steve Bruce admitted he didn't know what level the lad was at.
"He did well the first game he came on for us but, with injuries and suspensions, there have been times I have had to go with one up front.
"So it has been frustrating for him and he has asked to go back. That's the problem with Premeirship youngsters as they come here and want to play all the time.
"But I must admit I didn't see enough there to suggest he will be someone I would continue to pursue."
Palmer is looking for Stags to transfer their away form to Field Mill on Saturday.
Stags have won three and drawn two of their last five away games, scoring seven times in the last two alone.
But home form has been disappointing and the reason they have missed out on the Play-offs.
They have won once, drawn four and lost three of the last eight games at Field Mill and Palmer said: "We have done very well away from home and now is the time to end this home hoodoo.
"I know it's difficult when sides like Chester come here and waste time and get men behind the ball.
"For the first time in a long time I will have almost a full squad and couldn't tell you for certain what side I will pick which is a good thing.
"I want to go 4-4-2 and it's up to the players in training now to show me they should be selected.
"The Play-offs may be gone. But every one of our last six games is still there to be won. I am looking for performances which will give us results and confidence."
Visitors Grimsby Town have not won for four matches and striker Matt Harrold will play his last game on loan before returning to Brentford.
mansfieldtown.net reports that contract offers will be made to Giles Coke and Callum Lloyd following their recent displays in the centre of midfield for the Stags. The two eighteen year olds have suitably impressed Stags boss Carlton Palmer with battling performances and attitude that he likes from all his players not just the youngsters. The contracts will keep the midfield pairing at Field Mill until the end of next season.
Palmer feels that with the two players performing so well it makes the Adam Murray situation easier to deal with as each day goes by.
Other contracts confirmed are for Callum's youth team mates striker Daniel Heron and midfielders Daniel Sleath and Anton Brown.
Maenwhile mansfieldtown.net also reports that central defender Dave Artell underwent a fitness test yesterday to determine how near to full recovery he is after cheating death in a bizarre case DVT (deep vein thrombosis) brought on by a plaster cast being applied too tightly after a routine ankle operation recently.
The results of the test were not what the defender was hoping for highlighting that he is 'slightly down' from where he should be and will have to wait a while longer before resuming full duties.
As a help to get Artell back, Carlton Palmer has pencilled in a friendly to be played on Monday which would allow Artell to get 45 minutes of football under his belt although Palmer will be proceeding very carefully with this as he doesn't wish to aggravate the injury further.
"I have pencilled a friendly game in for Monday. My plan is to give Dave 45 minutes but I will be careful not to push him too hard too soon so we will see how training goes the rest of this week and it is a case of watch this space." he told the official site this morning.
Meanwhile Luke Dimech who has been absent from the sixteen due to International duty with Malta is returning this week and is in contention for the team as are Colin Larkin, Gareth Jelleyman and Alex Neil who are all returning from injury (Larkin and Jelleyman - Dead leg, and Neil - Concussion)
Latest | March 2005