BAP MAY HAVE TO BE PATIENT
John-Baptiste may have to wait for Stags return
CHAD website, 16 August 2005
TEENAGE star defender Alex John-Baptiste has been warned he may have patiently wait for his Stags return ahead of Saturday's tough trip to relegated Peterborough United (3pm).
John-Baptiste has missed the first three games of the season through suspension.
But, after Rhys Day and Jake Buxton combined superbly for a clean sheet in Saturday's sparkling first win of the season - a 3-0 success against relegated Torquay United - player-manager Carlton Palmer said both Day and Buxton would play at Peterborough.
"They both played superbly on Saturday and it would be unfair to leave either of them out," said Palmer.
"The only way Alex will play on Saturday is if I decided to go with three central defenders.
"Credit where credit is due, I put on Rhys a lot last season and during the summer about his fitness.
"He has worked really hard, coming in almost every day during the summer, and there is no better central defender in our division right now.
"He has got to continue that way now and, if he does, we will sit down at Christmas and I will offer him a new contract.
"Jake will also play at Peterborough on merit. Alex John-Baptiste is an excellent football player but Jake didn't deserve to be left out the side before Saturday and I just wouldn't do that to the kid this Saturday.
"What Jake has to do now is find consistency. He can't have three good games and a bad one. As a centre half you just can't do that."
Another worry for Palmer ahead of the weekend is midweek U21 international call-ups for Adam Birchall and Stephen Dawson.
Birchall was part of the Welsh U21 squad to face Malta in Llanelli yesterday (Tuesday) while Dawson was drafted into the Republic of Ireland squad that travelled to Mourneview Park, Lurgan, for a friendly against Northern Ireland U21s.
"I am just keeping my fingers crossed they both come back injury free," said Palmer.
"A lot of these U21 squads can be players who are Premiership reserves. But when they select players from lower division clubs they need to understand these are very important players for their clubs and, particularly in friendlies, should be used sensibly.
"As someone who played a lot of international football, it is hard when you come back from midweek duty to play on a Saturday. It's the same with clubs who play in Europe. They often have a Euro hangover the following Saturday.
"But I would never deny them the chance to play for their countries. They have come here to progress and hopefully we can all achieve what we want to achieve collectively and individually."
Now Mansfield are preparing to take on yet another relegated club this weekend in Mark Wright's Peterborough United, who stole an excellent 3-2 win at fancied Bristol Rovers last weekend.
Posh lost 1-0 at home to Keith Curle's Chester City in their first game and were then beaten by the same score at Carlisle where Peter Kennedy was sent-off after a dust-up with former Stag Adam Murray.
But they hit form at Bristol Rovers, although they had skipper Dean Holden sent off - he and Kennedy will be suspended on Saturday.
"Mark Wright is a good friend of mine and a former England colleague who I have know for a long time," said Palmer.
"Don't forget he took Chester from non-League back into the League which is one of the hardest things to do.
"There are not many managers in the lower divisions who have had the success he has and I am sure he is on the verge of a better job in a higher division.
"He knows what it takes to win games in these leagues and win a Championship. So I know his side will be organised and disciplined."
Palmer expects Peterborough to go with three central defenders and now has to decide if he will stick with the winning 4-4-2 formation he used in Saturday's 3-0 success over Torquay.
"I am loathe to disrupt things too much but I am not afriad to switch formations or drop players if I think it will help us win a particular match," he said.
"Just because we won on Saturday, some people will say it was because 4-4-2 worked better than 4-3-3.
"I don't agree. I think the 4-3-3 worked well too but we didn't get the breaks.
"I have already had a chat with my old boss, Ron Atkinson, about it and will make up my mind later in the week."
Palmer (groin) and Jon Olav Hjelde (dead leg) both missed Saturday's gme injured while Day (bruised foot) and Adam Rundle (groin) have both needed treatment.
But all four are expected to be fit by Saturday to join John-Baptiste in a fully fit squad.
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