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Archived News from July 2007

4th July 2007 8:43

John-Baptiste deal hailed as 'major signing'
CHAD website, 03 Jul 2007
By John Lomas

MANSFIELD Town boss Billy Dearden has hailed the return of star central defender Alex John-Baptiste as 'a major signing' for the club.
The out-of-contract 21-year-old looked almost certain to move elsewhere but yesterday agreed to sign a new three-year deal at Field Mill.

His return eased Stags' disappointment over midfielder Giles Coke's decision to turn down a new deal to join League One Northampton Town and Peterborough central defender Ben Futcher's decision to sign for Bury ahead of Stags.

"I am very pleased Alex is staying - it is a major signing for us," said Dearden as he prepared for the start of pre-season training on Thursday.

"I have put no pressure on the lad. I have said from day one that I only want players here who want to play for the club and Alex is one of those.

"To be honest I think he would have signed before now if it wasn't for his agent, but I do understand why they hung on.

"Alex has signed the deal offered to him at the end of last season and it will be good to see him on Thursday.

"I think he has seen the three signings we have made and feels we are going to be stronger this season."

He added: "I have no doubt that eventually Alex will move to a higher level but I have always said I don't think the time is right just yet.

"I will give him as much help as I can to play at a higher level whether that is with us, which we would all like, or elsewhere.

"If he starts the season like he finished the last then I think a lot more clubs will be looking at him."

Although Dearden is still looking to add to his squad, he insisted there was no urgency, despite Coke signing a two-year contract with League One Northampton Town.

Much may hinge on the final decision by fellow central midfielder Stephen Dawson who is now the last player still holding out on a new deal offered at Field Mill.

Dawson has been linked with Eircom League club Bohemians and is unhappy with the new contract offered by the Stags.

"I had a call from 'Daws' on Monday asking me if the deal had been improved and I told him no," said Dearden.

"It is up to him. I know he has had a couple of offers in Ireland but I am still hopeful he will stay here."

The departing Coke had missed much of the second half of the season after damaging knee ligaments at Accrington but has rejected his new deal at Field Mill to step up a division.

With Coke being under 24, a fee will be involved and, with Stags reportedly rejecting a sum offered by the Cobblers, the amount will now be decided by a transfer tribunal.

"I am disappointed to lose Giles but wish him all the best," said Dearden. "He rang me to thank me for all I had done for him, but I would rather he was still here.

"Giles had had a rough 12 months, but in the four or five games he played for me he was getting back to what he was capable of and, in him and Jon D'Laryea, we had two of the most outstanding midfield players in our league.

"Then Giles had a bad injury which is not right yet - he could be another month.

"But he has moved to a club in a higher division and also within travelling distance of his London home.

"So we are a body down and I am looking at players. But there is no panic.

"Dan Martin can play in there, we are waiting on Stephen Dawson and hopefully the youngsters who can play in there will come back stronger.

"I am looking at strikers and midfield players as, with Bap back and Martin McIntosh, Jake Buxton, Gareth Jelleyman and John Mullins I think we don't look too bad at the back."

Ex-Stags manager Peter Shirtliff is back in the game as assistant boss at Tranmere Rovers.

Midfield search on after Coke leaves
CHAD website, 03 Jul 2007
By John Lomas
A central midfield player would appear to be an urgent priority for Stags boss Billy Dearden after Giles Coke today signed a two-year contract with League One Northampton Town.
There have already been stories in the Irish press this week that fellow central midfielder Stephen Dawson, out of contract like Coke, is set to join Eircom League club Bohemians.

Dawson is unhappy with the new deal offered by the Stags.

Coke had missed much of the second half of the season after damaging knee ligaments at Accrington but has rejected his new deal at Field Mill to step up a division.

With Coke being under 24, a fee will be involved and, with Stags reportedly rejecting a sum offered by the Cobblers, the amount will now be decided by a transfer tribunal.

The former QPR youth team player was spotted by Mansfield while playing non-League for Kingstonian.

Striker Barry Conlon, who was released by Stags at the end of the season, was today expected to sign for League Two rivals Bradford City.

Evening Post, 03 July 2007

Mansfield boss Billy Dearden is disappointed but not surprised by midfielder Giles Coke's decision to sign for Northampton.

The 21-year-old yesterday penned a deal at the Sixfields Stadium, ending speculation over his future next season.

After being out with a knee injury since January, Dearden had hoped to persuade the London-born player to stay at Field Mill.

But Coke rejected a one-year offer from the Stags and is instead looking forward to playing League One football.

"Giles has not spoken to me to tell me what he is doing, but that's what you are up against," said Dearden.

"It is disappointing, especially after how we have looked after him since he got the injury.

"But his agent has been touting him around because his contract is up, so this was a possibility, whether we looked after him or not.

"Ever since I came to the club, I knew Cokey wanted to move back down nearer to the London area.

"His wife and their young baby live down in London, so it will be a lot easier for him to travel there.

"It has been a difficult situation, but it goes without saying we will be looking to bring someone in to replace him."

Coke's agent, Alex Cowdy, added: "I think it's an excellent chance for Giles to play at a higher level and he's an ambitious lad who wants to do that.

"When Northampton came in for him, it was hard to turn the offer down."

Coke was plucked from Ryman League side Kingstonian by then Stags boss Carlton Palmer in the second half of the 2004-2005 season.

He made 66 starts in all competitions for Mansfield, scoring seven goals.

Evening Post, 03 July 2007

Alex John-Baptiste today admitted his relief at signing a new three-year deal with Mansfield to end weeks of speculation over his future.

It was widely expected that the highly-rated 21-year-old central defender would leave Stags this summer after graduating through the club's youth system.

But, after a proposed move to League One Crewe Alexandra fell through, John-Baptiste has signed a contract to keep him at Field Mill until the summer of 2010.

And he revealed the presence of boss Billy Dearden and assistant manager Paul Holland at the club had a big bearing on his decision.

"I'm glad that everything has been sorted and now I can look forward to getting ready for the start of the season on August 11," said John-Baptiste. "Hopefully the club will now move in the right direction and I can put all this behind me.

"The players Billy has brought in so far are good ones. We still need some more and hopefully the gaffer will be given the money to do that.

"No one wants to be finishing 17th every season and I would like to think we can be up there pushing for promotion.

"I'd like to put on record my thanks to Mansfield for the deal they have offered me, which is a very good one.

"It's no surprise to me that the last six months has seen me play some of the best football of my career.

"I have no doubt in my mind it is down to the gaffer and Dutch."

Dearden added: "He's a key player for us and I'm very pleased he's decided to sign.

"Hopefully, it will act as a big lift for everyone associated with the club."


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