BROWN IN FITNESS TEST FOR GRAYS GAME
Mansfield v Grays
Mansfield are waiting to see if on-loan players Jonathan D'Laryea and Allan Russell will be given permission to play in the FA Cup by their clubs.
Gus Uhlenbeek serves the final game of a three match ban and Gareth Jelleyman is available again after suspension.
Grays manager Mark Stimson has a fitness doubt over defender Stev Angus, who is struggling with a groin injury.
The Conference leaders will also be without striker Tony Battersby, who also has a groin injury.
Live second-half commentary on Radio Five Live
CHAD website, 01 December 2005
IN-FORM hotshot Simon Brown will be having a fitness test before a decision is made about whether to include him in the squad for the visit of top Nationwide Conference side Grays Athletic.
Although he has not yet trained with the other players since straining his hamstring in the 3-0 loss to Bury, he has been running and undergoing remedial work and is desperate to play.
Mansfield Town boss Peter Shirtliff said he would give the pacy goalscorer every chance to prove his fitness before tomorrow night's FA Cup Second Round match in front of the Sky cameras, but said he would work around the problem if he cannot take to the field.
"Him and Richie Barker had a good partnership but you are not going to keep the same 11 all the time, playing week in and week out and you are going to have opportunities for other people," he said.
And his point was proved on Saturday when a battling Stags managed to overcome the loss of their second highest scorer to record a 2-1 win against League Two strugglers Stockport County.
But despite Stags recent good form, which has seen them pick up 12 points from their last six games, Shirtliff admits his young side may go into tomorrow's game as underdogs.
And he says he is willing to sacrifice a cup run and a possible lucrative tie against Premiership opposition in the next round - if it would mean they could climb the league table.
"It will be a difficult game," he told Chad. "They look a good side and have good players with good league experience.
"They are a progressive outfit who have had a promotion and look like having another one. They are a Conference side but that doesn't necessarily mean they are not up to the standard of League Two.
"It will be a good game for them and will also be a good game for us and I'm looking for a good performance.
"But there is no doubt about it, the league is the priority. Teams are judged over 46 games, not two in the cup. I'd be disappointed if we lose but I'd move straight on to Wrexham on Tuesday."
Grays have only lost one game this season and Shirtliff warned it would be a tough match despite Mansfield being a division above the visitors.
"They'll be approaching it in a professional manner," he added. "They are full-time and are a professional outfit to all intents and purposes and they will be looking to win it.
"I think motivation shouldn't even come into it tomorrow night, to be honest. We've got a home game in the second round of the FA Cup, which is a fantastic competition and the Sky camera's are here just to add a bit of spice to it."
Stags ready for Grays challenge
CHAD website, 30Nov05
MANSFIELD Town boss Peter Shirtliff is warning his side not to take Nationwide Conference table-toppers Grays Athletic lightly when they visit Field Mill on Friday night (7.45pm) in the second round of the FA Cup.
The Essex big-spenders - dubbed the 'Chelsea of the Conference' - sit just six positions behind the Stags as they look to secure their dream of League football by completing their second successive promotion.
But Shirtliff knows his side are in for a tough test in front of the Sky TV cameras as there is a place in the high-profile third round of the Cup up for grabs, which could lead to a lucrative tie against Premiership opposition.
"I can't understand this banana skin mentality," he told Chad.
"Grays are a good, confident side and from the look of it will be playing in League Two next year.
"This is not some pub team we are playing on Friday night.
"I wouldn't be surprised if their wage bill wasn't bigger that ours for playing staff.
"We are not just going to turn up and roll Grays over, our attitude has got to be spot on."
Last season Grays completed a remarkable Nationwide Conference South and FA Trophy double by beating local side Hucknall Town on penalties in the final at Villa Park.
And they have carried on from where they left off and currently have 39 points after winning 11 of their 18 league matches this season, losing just once.
And the the league's top scorers have already hit the back of the net 43 times this season, while their stingy defence has only conceded 20 goals.
Shirtliff has sent scouts to monitor the Conference high-fliers and watched them himself on TV when they lost their unbeaten record to second placed Accrington Stanley 2-1.
"They are beatable," he added, "but they are still a good side, and if they are the standard of League Two then we are in for a tough game.
"I thought the fans were great on Saturday.
"We had nearly 3,000 in on a bitterly cold day so hopefully they will turn up in their numbers to support the lads on Friday."
On current form Stags are the second best team in League Two with 12 points from their last six games.
And Shirtliff said he was pleased with the progress his side was making.
"We've done quite well but we've got to keep that going," he added.
"I said when I took over we had to be more consistent and that shows consistency.
"If we lose at home then it is all doom and gloom in Mansfield, I can't understand it.
"Alright we had a blip against Bury but we bounced back against Stockport.
"Now we've got a good cup tie on Friday and hopefully we can keep progressing."
Despite their rich vein of form Stags are still sitting in 20th place in League Two, but Shirtliff believes that is just a sign of how tight the league table is, with only 10 points separating Cheltenham in seventh and Macclesfield in 22nd.
"You just have to look at someone like Burnley," he said.
"They were right in the bottom three (of the Championship) but have won 10 out of their last 12 games and are now in the play-offs.
"It is incredible how things can turn but we will take it game by game, as the cliché goes.
"If we keep our form and keep our confidence and resilience and keep picking up results we should be OK."
But Shirtliff said there were still improvements he wanted to make from the win over Stockport before Friday.
"There will be some work done throughout the week making the points I want to make about positional play and decision making.
"That's what it's all about, decision making.
"The best players make the most right decisions."
* Simon Brown has still not trained since he strained his hamstring against Bury but is being monitored day-to-day and is making making good progress.
However, Shirtliff thinks it is unlikely fellow frontman Chris Beardsley will play again before February as he continues his rehabilitation after his broken leg.
"It was never on for a Christmas return, that was always way too optimistic," he said.
"We don't want to rush him back. He's got to be 100 per cent but he's doing well.
"The reports from Lilleshall and the people at the club all say the process of healing is going as it should go but it is something you can't rush."
Latest | December 2005