IT'S THE BATTLE OF THE KIDS
Evening Post, 26 July 2002
It will be the battle of the youngsters tomorrow when Mansfield Town face Nottingham Forest in their friendly at Field Mill (3pm).
Mansfield boss Stuart Watkiss believes it is a great chance for midfielders Craig Disley and Lee Williamson to test themselves against some of the "best in the country".
"Both ourselves and Forest are gearing up to the big kick-off on August 10 and in that respect, it is about much-needed match practice for both teams," he said.
"Forest ply their trade at a higher standard and when you think David Prutton plays for England Under-21s, it will be a good test for the young lads in my midfield. It should be really interesting to see how they get on.
"Paul Hart's record of bringing young players through at Leeds and at Forest really speaks for itself.
"People have been very nice in saying good things about the young players we have got here but, when you look at what Paul has achieved, it puts everything into perspective.
"Most of the players at Leeds have come through his system and he is now doing a great job at Forest with their young players."
Mansfield right-back Bobby Hassell returned to training yesterday in an attempt to recover from a knee injury but trialist Chris Holloway is definitely ruled out with an ankle problem.
Fellow trialist Hugh Murray will be given another run-out and Watkiss is hoping to sign another couple of trialists within the next 24 hours.
Forest keeper Darren Ward is looking forward to going back to his roots after making 81 league appearances between 1992 and 1995 for the Stags. He is expecting quite a few changes at Field Mill.
"It's the nearest League ground to my home and my roots are there as I was an apprentice schoolboy at Mansfield," Ward said. "I enjoyed every single minute.
"A lot of personnel have been and gone and I'm not sure I will know too many of the playing staff.
"Paul Holland, the youth team manager, used to be a playing colleague of mine and Barry Statham, the physio, is still there.
"They have altered the ground and redeveloped on the same site. When I have driven through Mansfield, I have seen the developments from a distance and it looks a decent set-up. I'm looking forward to going back."
Meanwhile, Mansfield remain in negotiations with Colin Larkin and his agent after agreeing a deal worth around £150,000 with Wolves for the striker.
Watkiss explained: "I don't think anything will be finalised until the early part of next week when the chairman returns from holiday."
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