PHIL HARDY ON TRIAL
Watkiss: "Hardy did OK for the reserves last night and you could tell he has 400 games under his belt. But it might be asking a lot of him to play on Saturday."
Bobby Hassell did not play with the reserves due to a tight hamstring and may well now miss out on making a return to first team action this weekend.
STAGS EYE DEFENDER
Evening Post, 05 September 2002
Mansfield manager Stuart Watkiss has given a trial to former Wrexham and Port Vale defender Phil Hardy as he wrestles with injury problems that have cut his squad to shreds.
The 29-year-old left-back, who made over 450 appearances for the Welsh side and finished last season having played eight games for Port Vale, will train at Field Mill this week.
Defender Bobby Hassell did not play in last night's 4-1 reserve defeat at Scunthorpe and will not be fit for Saturday's clash with QPR.
Watkiss said: "Phil has a lot of experience. He did well in the reserves. We'll see how he goes."
Hassell's injury leaves Watkiss with Jamie Clarke as his only regular full-back.
David Jervis is still ruled out with a foot injury picked up in the 2-0 defeat against Chesterfield.
And Allen Tankard has not featured since the end of last season after suffering with tendonitis in his knee.
With seven players also injured and Scott Sellars still serving his three-match ban for a sending off at Wigan, Watkiss is desperately trying to make loan signings before the clash with QPR.
As well as a full-back, he wants a centre forward, as Colin Larkin will be out for at least four weeks with a hamstring injury and Shayne Bradley has an ankle problem.
So far, however, Watkiss has not had any luck.
He said: "I must have made about 15 phone calls yesterday and been knocked back by everybody.
"At the minute, it doesn't look good but we are going to draw up a fresh list and see how we do in trying to get some more bodies in."
One ray of light for Watkiss came when he discovered the did not need to sign a player a week before the Worthington Cup match with Derby, that takes place on Tuesday.
Such restrictions only apply to the FA Cup. New players can be brought in up until the afternoon of a Worthington Cup game.
Time running out for Stags as injuries bite hard
STAGS boss Stuart Watkiss is fighting a losing battle to find 16 fit players to face Queens Park Rangers on Saturday (1pm) as Stags' early-season injury crisis bites hard.
Of a squad of 23, Watkiss now has 11 injured and one suspended and all attempts to bring in loan players have so far met with failure.
"Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse - it did," he said. "The reserves lost 4-1 at Scunthorpe last night, keeper Jason White injured his thumb and Danny Bacon was sent off for a head butt!
"Every call we have made to get players in has ended in knock-backs and I would hate to see this club's phone bill at the end of the month.
"Right now we can't name 16 pros for the squad on Saturday and might have to just promote youth players, register them properly and give them a squad number.
"Clubs seem very loathe to let players out right now and we won't take just anyone. The chairman has been fine with me and says we can bring in a full-back and a striker as he knows we are short on numbers.
"He's even been on the phone as well to give us a hand! But they have to be the right players for us.
"We are still optimistic but time is getting short before the Rangers game."
He added: "All we can do right now is ride out the storm until we get players back. We will do what we can against Rangers, Derby and Oldham over the next week.
"But things are not going to get any better here until we start to get these players back.
"All I can ask of the 11 players who go out there is that, whether they play well or not, they can look me in the eye at the end of the game and tell me they have done their best. Then I will have no complaints. But few of them could do that after the Crewe game last week.
"We are being tested to the limit right now and have to cope and adapt as best we can
"If we go out there with a negative atitude and with fear then we are asking for trouble. The games will feel more imposing and difficult than they really are.
"I want my lads to roll up their sleevs and have a right pop at Rangers on Saturday.
"Sure they have quality players like Paul Furlong and Kevin Gallen. But we have some good players for them to worry about too."
Former Wrexham and Port Vale left back Phil Hardy played for the reserves last night and will continue to train with the Stags. But he has done little in the way of pre-season training and is very short on match practice.
"He did OK at Scunthorpe and you could tell he has 400 games under his belt," said Watkiss. "But it might be asking a lot of him to play on Saturday."
Wayne Corden (ribs) and Jason White (thumb) are the most hopeful to make the squad of the 11 injuries.
Full back Bobby Hassell's knee is much better but he missed last night's game after complaining of a tight hamstring.
Scott Sellars continues his three-match ban.
Stags fans are reminded the Rangers game is a 1pm kick-off due to TV coverage of England's friendly international with Portugal later that afternoon
Phil Hardy In Training
Experienced defender Phil Hardy has joined the Stags for training and played for the reserves in last night's 4-1 defeat at Scunthorpe.
The left back has over 400 league appearances to his name, most of which came during his long spell with Wrexham.
The player spent time with Port Vale last season but is now a free agent and looking for a club.
However, the player has not done any pre-season training and is lacking match fitness. He played a full 90 minutes for the reserves last night and seemed to come through it OK.
Watkiss said of the left back, "He showed last night that he is an experienced player and did alright and made a decent first impression. We'll just have to see how things go over the next few days."
The Stags are desperate to bring players in but Watkiss doesn't want just anybody, however he thinks that Hardy is a possibility. "We need players but we need the right players. As I say, we'll have a look at Phil and he could find himself involved on Saturday if things go well over the next couple of days."
This is the only good bit of news that Watkiss can bring us on the player front at the moment, his raid on bigger clubs to bring in the younger players has not been successful so far. "We've had a lot of kn ock backs from clubs who just reluctant to release their players. Pre-season we looked at Danny Webber from Man Utd who's gone to Watford and done the business, we also looked at Jimmy Davis from Man Utd, but he went to Swindon and is receiving rave reviews. It shows that we are looking at the right players, now it's a case of getting them here."
With the club currently languishing in 22nd position, perhaps a possible move to Field Mill is none too appealing to a youngster looking to make a name for himself, but Watkiss says to them look at our record. "Last season we had Adam Murray from Derby who did well for us and has now returned and beginning to make a name for himself at Pride Park. We also had Matthew Piper from Leicester, who went back there a better player and he has now secured himself a big money transfer into the Premiership with Sunderland. We obviously give a good grounding here at Mansfield and we can use this as ammunition as we enter talks with clubs."
Whatever Watkiss does, it will have to be quick. On Saturday he has to name a squad of 16 players to face QPR, but at te moment he cannot fill three of those spaces. If he fails in landing a signing or two in the next 48 hours, it will mean that he has to register a few of his scholars who would then be set to make their first team debut, following in the footsteps of Danny Holyoak who did so last week against Crewe.
Also, be alert Adrian Steel. The highest bidder on our auction during pre-season is now a registered squad player for this season and could legally be involved. Dust down those boots Adrian and wait for the phone to ring!!!!
It Never Rains, It Just Pours
The song by D:Ream back in 1994 said that "Things Can Only Get Better", try telling that to Stags manager Stuart Watkiss.
Following the reserve teams 4-1 defeat last night at Scunthorpe, young goalkeeper Jason White suffered a thumb injury which means he will not be able to train for the rest of the week, but he will be fit enough to sit on the bench for Saturday's early kick off game with QPR.
Bobby Hassell did not play with the reserves in the end, no not a knee problem, this time he had a tight hamstring following training on Tuesday morning and may well now miss out on making a return to first team action this weekend.
Add to that another suspension, Danny Bacon was sent off in the dieing moments of last night's game for head-butting an opponent. He will recieve a 3 match ban which will start when Scott Sellars returns.
Watkiss has said that this weeks phone bill will go through the roof of Field Mill as he, Richo and the Chaiman are all ringing clubs trying to bring in players to bolster the squad. "We're all on the phone and trying hard to get players in, god knows what the phone bill we be like come the end of the week."
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