WEAVER RUMOURS/BAPTISTE/INJURY NEWS/D`LARYEA
No let-up as players fight for futures
CHAD, 29 March 2006
MANSFIELD Town look unlikely to be involved in either the Play-offs or the final relegation battle now.
But, with 14 players out of contract at the end of the season, Stags boss Peter Shirtliff said there would be no complacency as he prepared for the arrival of Oxford United on Saturday (3pm).
After two successive wins, Stags saw their eight-match unbeaten run end in a 2-0 defeat in the mud at Bristol Rovers last weekend.
With just seven games to go that left them eight points adrift of seventh-placed Lincoln City, who have a game in hand, but a comforting 10 points clear of the drop zone.
"I don't know if we are safe or out of the Play-off recknoning, all I know is that I want us to go out there and keep winning games," said manager Peter Shirtliff.
"We will continue to prepare for each game. My players are not short of motivation for the last seven games.
"They want to get out there and win games as much as I do and many of them are playing for their futures."
Oxford's much-needed 1-0 win over Peterborough United last weekend opened up a seven-point gap between them and the relegation spots.
Shirtliff said: "We are looking forward to the Oxford game.
"Now they have Jum Smith there, he has bags of enthusiasm and experience and they come to us on the back of a win. It will be a very tight game."
Shirtliff is waiting on the fitness of three players.
Alex John-Baptiste missed the defeat at Bristol with tendonitis at the front of his knee and, although it is settling down, he may struggle to make it for Saturday.
Fellow defender Gareth Jelleyman tweaked knee ligaments at Bristol but should be all right while Adam Rundle suffered an ankle injury in a 1-0 reserve friendly defeat at Port Vale on Monday but also should be fine for Saturday.
Nicky Weaver to Return to the Mill?
Stags manager Peter Shirtliff refuses to talk about rumours that former stag shot stopper and Now Manchester City keeper is to make a return to Field Mill
"NO Comment!" said Shirtliff when asked this morning about the possibility of seeing Weaver return to the Mill.
'Failure to adapt to conditions cost us the game'
After watching the video of the weekend visit to Bristol Rover's Memorial Stadium. Stags boss Peter Shirtliff was not best pleased at the way his side adjusted to the playing conditions but admits that it was a bad playing surface.
"I have watched the video back since the weekend and as I said after the game I wasn't happy at the way the players failed to adapt to the conditions of the pitch. But it was a difficult surface to play on and I doubt I could replicate those conditions in training.
"It was a very muddy pitch and the water was holding on the surface so it was difficult to play on but Bristol's players were a little bit more experienced and managed to play relative to the conditions.
"Lennie Lawrence later said I had a good young team which is nice to hear but at the end of the day we still lost the game. I think if we had been a bit more direct and delivered the ball into the box a bit more we may have got a better result. The little square passes in muddy areas were not working so we should have adapted our play to allow for that. But saying that most of the team are young and experience will come
"The important thing is now to get back to the ways of the previous eight games and try and finish as strongly and as high up the table as possible."
Peter Shirtliff focussing on one game at a time has put the Bristol Disappointment behind him and is now looking forward to the weekend home clash against Oxford United.
"I am focussing one game at a time and the ultimate goal is to win as many games and finish as high up the table as possible whether it is safe or play-offs isn't the issue.
"I am looking forward to playing Oxford at the weekend, they have a new manager Jim Smith who got bags of enthusiasm and experience and they will be coming here on the back of a good win so I expect it will be a tough game for us.
"The players share the same mind set as me on this and they too want to put what has gone behind them and just get out there and win games so are well motivated especially as a lot of them are playing for their futures as well. I have started talking to players about contracts and I am relatively happy about the way it is going so far"
Baptiste in doubt
Central defender Alex John-Baptiste was conspicuous by his absence during the away trip to Bristol Rovers at the weekend and it was later known that he had suffered from Tendonitis on the front of his knee, which started causing him some discomfort on the Thursday after training.
The only real cure for this type of injury is rest and it was revealed this morning that he is resting up and doing okay but it is still 'touch and go' as to whether he will be available for this weekend's home game against Oxford United (Field Mill KO 3.00pm).
Meanwhile Gareth Jelleyman suffered a slight medial ligament strain to his knee during the game at the weekend and will not be training today but should be okay for the Oxford game at the weekend. Also Adam Rundle who picked up a knock to the ankle yesterday in a friendly game away at Port Vale.
Reserve action at valliants
Stags Reserve side made the short journey to Port Vale yesterday morning for what Peter Shirtliff describes as 'straight forward training game'. The stags team made up of the youngsters that turned out against Lincoln City and a handful of first team players that have not being getting in to the starting eleven on matchdays. Played well but came away 1-0 down.
"We're not too worried about the result as it was a straight forward training game. It was more about a workout for players that haven't been playing and to that end it was a good exercise. With Mansfield Town not being in a reserve league it is often quite difficult to find friendly games locally. Often what happens a game will be arranged and then you will receive a phone call from the opposition saying that have picked up injuries over the weekend so the game is called off. But we have managed to do reasonably well throughout the season."
Adam Rundle, Adam Birchall, Callum Lloyd, Kyle Jacobs and Jason White were all amongst the travelling squad and did well on the day.
D'LARYEA - MAKALELE OF THE STAGS
Jonathan D'Laryea says he has helped Mansfield's climb to the brink of League Two safety in the "Claude Makelele" role.
Like the Chelsea superstar, the 20-year-old likes to sit deep and protect his back four, leaving other players to do the attacking.
He feels that may have helped to create a balance in the team that was not apparent before his arrival from Manchester City.
"I do like to watch Makelele play and if people say that I do the same job for Mansfield as he does for Chelsea, then that's great," said D'Laryea.
"The other lads who have played in the middle of midfield such as Stephen Dawson and Giles Coke like to join the attack, but I'm more defensive.
"Perhaps we play a little bit differently since I came into the side. I think it just gives the players around me more confidence to go forward, knowing that I will be there to cover them.
"I think if you look at all the teams who are doing well, right up to the Premiership, they all have someone who can break up the play. I'm not the finished article yet, but I'm doing my best to do that for the team to help us finish the season well."
Mansfield's recent fine form has started the fans talking about a late bid for the play-offs. But D'Laryea insists the Stags' fate is out of their own hands and, if they are to make it into the top seven, they will be reliant on other results.
He said: "We seem to be on a bit of a roll at the moment and confidence is high. "I think the play-offs are now in the back of the players' minds but we are not getting carried away.
"It is an old cliche, but we have to take every game as it comes. We have got to where we are now with that policy.
"At first we used it to pull away from relegation, but now we want to keep the results going and see where that leaves us at the end of the season."
Manchester-born D'Laryea gave up a chance to battle for a first-team spot at his hometown club - Premiership Manchester City - to join the Stags.
But now he has settled down into life at Field Mill, he is confident he has made the right decision.
"Every single first-team match I play I see it as justifying my decision to leave City," said D'Laryea.
"I would much rather be involved on a week-to-week basis in senior football than be playing in the reserves.
"If we did manage to go on and scrape into the play-offs, then that would be even better."
Latest | March 2006