WATKISS FACES INJURY WORRIES FOR THE OPENER
Evening Post, 09 August 2002
Mansfield Town begin their Division Two campaign tomorrow with 15 fit professionals and the youth team goalkeeper on the bench.
Stags boss Stuart Watkiss has been hit by an injury crisis and both Bobby Hassell and Allen Tankard are out of the opener against Plymouth at Field Mill.
Hassell has a knee injury and Tankard has not featured in the major pre-season games due to a hamstring problem that has hung over from the end of last season.
Watkiss is also looking at central defenders, after it was revealed Dion Scott, who joined from Walsall over the summer, will need a shoulder operation and will be out of action for three to four months.
Lee Sandford is currently on trial from Sheffield United and Jorge Jimenez, a Costa Rican Under-23 international who recently had a trial with Forest, also started training yesterday.
Reserve goalkeeper Michael Bingham picked up a knee injury in the 3-2 defeat at Lincoln and his place on the bench will be taken by Jason White.
With Michael Sisson and Shayne Bradley out long-term and Liam Lawrence still struggling with a groin strain, Stags are down to the bare bones.
Watkiss expects to face a tough test against last season's Division Three champions and he is keen to get off to a winning start.
He said: "It is a difficult opening game for us. They were the best team in our division last year and it is going to be a big test for us.
"The injuries we have got certainly don't help but I am confident the 16 players involved will have enough about them to get a result."
Stags got off to a good start to the season last year as their first defeat did not arrive until their eighth game, ironically at the hands of relegated Halifax.
Watkiss said; "Last year, we had a good pre-season in terms of injuries and we played well against both Sunderland and Middlesbrough.
"Injuries have definitely affected our build up this year but the real work starts now.
"Things have looked a lot better in the last couple of weeks and we have managed to bring in a few players.
"When everyone is fit, there will be competition for places and that is what I want to see.
"We are going in the right direction but it is just a shame we have got these injury problems at the moment."
Plymouth are expected to have striker Micky Evans available, despite the fact he fractured his cheekbone in the 2-2 draw against Forest on Saturday.
He had an operation yesterday and is expected to be fit to take his place as the injury is not regarded as serious.
He is expected to partner Nathan Lowndes, who has been captured from Scottish Premier side Livingston, up front.
MANSFIELD (from): Pilkington, Gadsby, Moore, Reddington, Jervis, Sellars, Mackenzie, Williamson, Disley, Corden, Larkin, A White, Christie, J White, Bacon, Clarke.
PLYMOUTH (from): Larrieu, Worrell, Wootton, Coughlan, McGlinchey, Taylor, Bent, Adams, Friio, Hodges, Phillips, Evans, Keith, Stonebridge, Lowndes, McCormick, Sturrock.
Latest | August 2002