BARKER INJURY DOUBT
Christmas striker crisis for Stags?
CHAD website, 22 December 2005
STAGS could face going into their crucial Festive programme without their potent strike force of Simon Brown and Richie Barker.
Manager Peter Shirtliff is hopeful both will shake off injuries to face Northampton Town on Boxing Day (3pm) - the start of a hectic four games in eight days period.
But he is clearly worried, particularly with fellow striker Chris Beardsley still sidelined long-term as he recovers from a broken leg.
Brown has a hamstring problem which is improving daily while Barker is suffering a new flare-up of the back problem that put him out earlier this season.
"It is worrying," admitted Shirtliff. "If any club in the country had three strikers out injured, they'd have a problem - particularly if two of them are up there near the top of the scoring charts.
"But if they don't make it then it will be up to someone else to step up to the plate and take their chance.
"Simon is coming on and he is running again. We are monitoring his progress daily and he is not without a chance for the Northampton game.
"Richie's back problem has flared up again and is causing him some discomfort. We'll have to see how it goes in the next few days.
"It is a problem he has had all season which we have managed as best as possible. Hopefully it will settle down quickly again."
Shirtliff feels this year('s Festive schedule is a big ask of all the clubs.
"I can remember playing three times over the festive period as a player but never four times," he said.
"It is virtually impossible for players to fully recover and the Football League should address this in my opinion.
"There is no chance this would happen on the continent.
"Having said that, everyone is in the same boat, and we will just have to get on with it as best we can.
"I will be speaking to the players tomorrow about their responsibilities. Playing football is a very privileged thing to do for a living and you have to be professional about it and subdue your festivities.
"I know the fans love to get out to a game on Boxing Day and I remember I enjoyed it too as a player."
SHIRTLIFF KEEN TO KEEP LOAN STARS FOR SEASON
Evening Post, 23 December 2005
Mansfield are looking to extend the loan deals of Jonathan D'Laryea and Allan Russell until the end of the season.
Peter Shirtliff has been impressed with Manchester City midfielder D'Laryea, in particular, and may even look to make the move permanent in the summer.
But first the Stags manager is hoping to secure both players for the remainder of this campaign.
He has already extended D'Laryea's stay to January 17 and is planning to hold talks with City boss Stuart Pearce about prolonging it.
He said: "He's formed a good partnership with whoever he's played in midfield with and he's a good type.
"He's a good lad and I like him. He's enthusiastic around the place and I think he's done well.
"He's up on January 17, which is the day we play Shrewsbury. I'm hoping once we get to that period maybe I'll contact City and see if we can get him to the end of the season."
Pearce has kept close tabs on the 20-year-old midfielder since he's been at Field Mill and has been pleased with his progress.
He said: "Peter rings me every week to tell me how he's doing and he's been doing well."
But after already putting the block on D'Laryea playing in the FA Cup, the City manager could be opposed to seeing the deal extended.
Still, Shirtliff remains hopeful something can be arranged.
As for Macclesfield striker Russell, he added: "We want to keep him to the end of the season."
IN-FORM BARKER: I'LL DO BETTER
Evening Post, 23 December 2005
Richie Barker is in the form of his life - but the Mansfield striker still wants to do better.
The Stags skipper has scored 11 in his last 12 games, but has failed to hit the net in his last two outings.
But he's hoping to put that right on Boxing Day when Mansfield travel to in-form Northampton.
Barker said: "In the last two games I've been shocking. They say you're only as good as your last game and if that's the case then I'm rubbish. I try not to get complacent and you've got to crack on if you want to improve, even at 30."
Regardless of his failure to score against Rushden or Peterbrough, Barker's form has been pivotal in Mansfield's rise up the table.
And he lays the credit squarely at the door of Peter Shirtliff.
Barker says a one-to-one with the manager earlier in the season saw him go back to basics in front of the goal.
And with 15 goals in all competitions this term it has undoubtedly paid off.
"I had a chat with Peter before he got the job permanently and he thought I was doing too much outside the box," said Barker.
"He thought I was doing other people's jobs by running down the channels and holding the ball up, then trying to get on the end of things in the box. "He said it wasn't possible and he was right. But it was my enthusiasm that made me do it. Since then I've tried to stay in the box and I've got a few goals because of it."
Northampton have their own veteran hot shot in Scott McGleish, who has scored 15 this season - including seven in his last five.
The 31-year-old former Charlton striker's form has helped Colin Calderwood's side maintain a seven-game unbeaten run in the league and move up to fifth.
The trip to Sixfields will be the biggest test Shirtliff's men face over the festive period, which sees them play four games in eight days. It could see them pull away from the relegation zone, or be dragged back into it.
Still Shirtliff refuses to place too much importance on the hectic schedule.
He said: "It's four games in rapid succession. Everybody is in the same boat. Everybody will be looking for 12 points and we're no different to anybody else.
"We're just going to try to get the maximum out of the possible points that we can."
Shirtliff has made moves to keep his players as fit as possible by giving them all a day off at the start of the week to help stop colds spreading through the squad.
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