WATKISS CHASING WAYNE ALLISON
WATKISS EYEING SIGNING HAT-TRICK
Evening Post, 30 July 2002
Mansfield manager Stuart Watkiss hopes to unveil a new midfielder in tonight's friendly against Derby County and is optimistic about bringing both Colin Larkin and veteran striker Wayne Allison to Field Mill.
Watkiss has not named the midfielder but it is believed to be Blackpool's Neil McKenzie, who he targeted at the end of the season.
The player was set to be at Field Mill this afternoon to complete the deal, which would see the former Kidderminster player leave Steve McMahon's Tangerines and give greater competition for Craig Disley and Lee Williamson in the centre of midfield.
With Dion Scott and Neil Moore already secured on permanent deals and Matthew Gadsby already at the club on a three-month loan, Watkiss is confident he can also add Larkin and Allison to the ranks.
A £150,000 deal with Wolves for Larkin has already been agreed and Watkiss believes Allison, who has been training with Sheffield United after leaving Tranmere at the end of the season, would be the perfect foil for the 20-year-old Irishman.
Mansfield"s rivals Chesterfield are also believed to be interested in the former Watford, Bristol City, Swindon and Huddersfield front man.
Watkiss said: "I am just waiting on a couple of phone calls and then hopefully everything will go my way.
"These would be the final pieces in the jigsaw but, if they do come off, they will have taken longer than I would have wanted.
"If we can get these three players, it means for the first time since I took over that I will have options.
"That will mean that there will be competition for places and players know they will have to perform."
At the moment, Watkiss is struggling with an injury crisis that sees several players battling to be fit for the start of the season, when Stags start their Division Two campaign against Plymouth Argyle on August 10.
His attacking options are currently limited as Shayne Bradley could be out for up to six weeks following the ankle injury he picked up in Saturday's 3-0 defeat against Forest, and Danny Bacon is also facing a fitness battle as he deals with a thigh strain.
Liam Lawrence has a groin strain and is described as "touch and go" for the big kick-off and Allen Tankard, who missed Saturday"s game, has a hamstring injury.
The good news is that Bobby Hassell trained yesterday and hopes are high he will be available for the visit of John Gregory's Rams, who will face the Stags again in the Worthington Cup on September 10.
Watkiss is relishing the opportunity of pitting his wits against a team relegated from the Premiership last season.
He said: "It should be another good test for us because, although they were relegated from the Premiership last season, they have still got players of exceptional quality.
"We have just got to make sure we get something from the game, in terms of being better than we were against Forest on Saturday.
"We are playing against quality opposition but our performance will be of paramount importance."
Derby have not announced whether Fabrizio Ravanelli will be playing or if Adam Murray, who played an integral part in seeing Stags to the finishing line in a three-month loan spell at Field Mill, will feature.
He is fit after missing the 5-1 win over Scunthorpe on Friday but the Rams face Chesterfield in the Derbyshire Centenary Cup tomorrow and Gregory is expected to field teams containing a mixture of first-team stars and reserve players.
Stags' reserve friendly at Doncaster tomorrow has been called off because of their injury problems.
Latest | July 2002