VAN HEUSDEN JOINS ON TEMPORARY CONTRACT
Dutchman in as crisis bites hard
DUTCH keeper Arjan van Heusden joined Stags on a temporary contract this week as the club's injury crisis bit even harder.
Saturday's 2-0 defeat by Cheltenham saw them finally hit rock bottom of Division Two while star keeper Kevin Pilkington broke his wrist to put the icing on a cake of misery for manager Stuart Watkiss.
With Lee Williamson now starting a three-game ban, that left Watkiss with a squad of just 11 players for this Saturday's trip to Northampton (3pm) and he immediately set about finding a keeper plus possibly another couple of new faces to bolster his threadbare troops.
“We did look at one or two younger keepers but, in our current position, we felt a bit of experience was required,” said Watkiss.
“Arjan had two excellent games against us last season and he has just had his contract paid up by Exeter so this suits both parties.”
Pilkington is expected to be out for six weeks with his fracture although striker Iyseden Christie has seen the foot injury he picked up on Friday imporve dramatically and he now has an outside chance of playing at Northampton if he can be back in training by Thursday.
Van Heusden (29) will make his debut in a Stags shirt when the reserves take on Chesterfield at Field Mill this afternoon (Wednesday, 2pm) in the Avon Insurance League Cup.
Along with Exeter, he has also played at Cambridge and Port Vale.
Depending on Christie's foot, Watkiss could be without the services of 12 players and is hoping he can still bring in a combative midfield ball-winner as well as possibly, a striker, before the trip to Sixfields Stadium.
“Costs will come into it as you do still have to pay the wages of the players that are injured and quite rightly so when they have injured themselves playing for Mansfield Town,” he said.
“Loan players then have to be added on to the wage bill on top. From the players we have out you could field a pretty good team, particularly defensively!”
The current sorry tale reads: Kevin Pilkington (six weeks - broken wrist); Michael Bingham (three weeks - knee); Allen Tankard (back of knee - two to three weeks); Bobby Hassell (knee - two weeks), Peter Clark (back of knee - two weeks); Dave Jervis (foot - two to three weeks), Dion Scott (shoulder - 10 weeks), Michael Sisson (cruciate ligaments - three months), Shayne Bradley (ankle - three weeks), Iyseden Christie (foot - one week), Danny Bacon (two more games suspension to serve), Lee Williamson (three games suspension, starting on Saturday).
Saturday's home setback means Stags have now lost five on the trot at home, four in the League, and failed to score a home League goal for 383 minutes as the injuries mount.
Reflecting on a week to forget, Watkiss said: It's hard to imagine our injury situation could be so bad. It's your worst nightmare come true.
“But it's happened and we have to deal with it. The two suspensions don't help.
“There is no miracle or quick-fix. I keep saying it but things are not going to drastically improve until we get players back from injury.
“If we were in this position with a full strength squad then I know I would be under severe pressure. Having said that, there is always a cut-off point where a manager's supporters think 'that's it' and patience runs thin.
“But I still have no intention of resigning or walking away. I still believe in my players and, when they are fit, I think we can climb this league.
“It will take a lot of hard work on the training ground and plenty of endeavour and commitment from the players.”
He added: “The players know right now that if they play badly they will keep their place as we have no competition for places with all the injuries. And a lot of them are on long term contracts. Maybe I will have to get some of them out to get some new faces in.
“If things are not going well for you, then sometimes you have to accept it, shut up shop and take the points from a 0-0 draw. In our curent plight, I would have been happy with that on Saturday but we let ourselves down again and Cheltenham didn't have to work too hard for their goals.
“You have to have the character to dig yourselves out of a hole, but my players haven't got that right now. I warned them the easiest thing in the world would be to undo all the good work we did at Luton. But they didn't heed that warning and we paid the ultimate price.”
Youngsters aged under-16 will be admitted for just £1 at Northampton this Saturday if accompanied by an adult.
Latest | September 2002