CHRISTIE SIGNS / INJURY NEWS
Norwegian trialist released / Lee Sandford on trial / Dion Scott operation
Stags Sign two more as big kick-off looms
CHAD website, 6 Aug 2002
MANSFIELD Town were given a double boost on the eve of their Nationwide Second Division campaign with two new signings.
Manager Stuart Watkiss finally clinched a deal with Blackpool to sign midfield ace Neil MacKenzie - regarded by Watkiss as the best midfielder in Division Three at Kidderminster two seasons back - on a two-year deal. And he then agreed a one-year deal with former Stags striker Iysdeden Christie to return to the club.
The enigmatic Christie scored one and made one in 45 minutes of Saturday's 3-2 friendly defeat at Lincoln. “Neil is a player I have been after since I saw him in the Kidderminster midfield the season before last,” said Watkiss. “At that time I felt he was the best midfield player in the Third Division. I have kept tabs on him since and saw him a few times last year. “He was excellent against us in the LDV game for Blackpool and is a great passer of the ball. He will give me more options and I am delighted to sign him. “It gives us good competition for midfield places with Craig Disley and Lee Williamson - though, don't be surprised to see me play all three together as well!”
On Christie he added: “Iyseden is a potential matchwinner as everyone here knows. “Yes, he is real jack-in-a-box and you can pull your hair out at times with him. “He is a bit of an enigma but I have worked with him before and know his qualities and what he is capable of.”
The two signings follow hot on the heels of the capture of Wolves striker Colin Larkin last week in a deal that could be worth £200,000 to the Molineux club, depending on the player's success at Field Mill.
All three will be in the squad for Saturday's mouthwatering opener at Field Mill against Third Division champions Plymouth Argyle (3pm). In addition, former Sheffield United defender and skipper Lee Sandford played in Monday's 1-0 behind-closed-doors friendly win at Halifax Town on trial.
The 34-year-old former England youth international, with 550 League games under his belt, will continue to train with the club this week. Norwegian trialist Rune Wiken scored the only goal but his trial is not to be extended.
Meanwhile, Italian Michele Di Piedi is another who will not be joining the club.
It was reported he did not enjoy training at Field Mill last Thursday and failed to turn up on Friday, returning to Sheffield Wednesday!
Liam Lawrence (groin) and Bobby Hassell (knee) both look set to shake off their injuries to join Saturday's squad. Reserve keeper Michael Bingham (knee) is 50-50 with youngster Jason White standing by.
Also, Allen Tankard (hamstring) and Shayne Bradley (ankle) are ahead of schedule and should be training next week.
These are certainly exciting times at Field Mill, reflected in an over 100 per cent increase in season ticket sales with Stags edging towards the 2,000 mark. Chairman Keith Haslam said: “I am very excited by the new season and can't wait for it to start. It will be a tough year but I believe we can cope with the higher standard. “Success for me would be the top half of the table.
We are one of only four or so Nationwide clubs to spend money and strengthen our squad this summer. “Others are just cutting back.
Look at Bristol City.
They have let go their 20-goal top scorer and not replaced him. “Huddersfield are expected to be in the shake-up but we coped with them comfortably in the FA Cup last year. Who knows - it will be very interesting for the fans who were brilliant last year and again on Monday against Alaves.”
Manager Watkiss said: “Apparantly we are already second favourites to go down but that's not a problem with us. We were 40/1 for promotion last year but we still got there. “We now have genuine competition for places for the first time since I took over and, although our pre-season results have not been the best, we are not going to come across anyone of the calibre of Forest and Alaves in our division. “Those games stand you in much better stead than playing sides and winning 7-0. “Plymouth were deserved champions last year and have added to their squad. It is a tough start but one we are looking forward to. “Then we go to Wigan on Tuesday to play at the JJB Stadium which is a lovely place to go as will be many of the stadiums we will visit this season. It's good for the fans and good for the players. So the last thing we must do is throw away all last year's hard work this season. “Personally I think we can be competitive at this level and might just surprise a few folk.”
New signing Dion Scott may need a shoulder operation after dislocating it for the third time this summer at Halifax on Monday.
Latest | August 2002