STAGS UNABLE TO STRENGTHEN SQUAD (OTHER THAN HALL)
Boss Russell wants clarification over Mansfield Town future
Evening Post, 1 Apr 11
DUNCAN Russell is seeking talks with chairman John Radford over his Mansfield Town future.
The Stags manager was handed the job until the end of the season after taking over from David Holdsworth in November, initially on a caretaker basis.
He has since guided Mansfield to the FA Trophy final at Wembley where they will play Darlington on May 7.
But Russell is keen to establish where he stands for next season.
He knows it is important to start drawing up and pursuing a list of targets and also organise pre-season fixtures.
"I spoke to Steve Barker yesterday and the chairman is still away, but really next week we need to sort something out," said Russell.
"There is a lot to do; players coming in who need to be procured and players going out.
"You also have to look at pre-season and who you are going to be playing.
"I just want to know where I stand and if that is something I should be worrying about."
Mansfield have missed out in their bid to strengthen their squad ahead of yesterday's final transfer deadline.
The Stags had hoped to bring in teenage left-back Johnny Lindsay from St Johnstone.
But after seeking clarification from the Conference, they were unable to proceed.
Only loan extensions and the signings of free agents, who have not played at Blue Square Bet Premier level or above this season, have been permitted since last Friday.
The Stags have, however, boosted their numbers by registering 38-year-old assistant boss Paul Hall as a player
Spotlight on Mansfield Town v Rushden and Diamonds
Evening Post, 1 Apr 11
Team (from): Grof, Marriott, Collett, Silk, Spence, Naylor, Sandwith, Foster, Preece, Stonehouse, Briscoe, Cain, Istead, Thompson, Murray, Nix, Smith, Connor, Medley, Mitchley, O'Rafferty, Higginson.
Team news: Mansfield are hoping to welcome back the majority of the seven absentees who missed Tuesday's 2-0 defeat to Crawley, Rhys Day (knee) aside.
That means Ashley Cain (thigh), Danny Mitchley (groin), Dan Spence (hamstring), Adam Smith (ankle), Kyle Nix (foot) and Niall O'Rafferty (bruising) all face fitness tests.
Team (from): Joe Day, Miller, Corcoran, Huke, Jamie Day, Porter, Mills, Power, Johnson, Gash, Charles, Evans, O'Connor, Osano, Farrell, Key, Sharif, Keehan.
Team news: Rushden will definitely be without Sam Smith (groin), Paris Cowan-Hall (ankle) and Neil Cousins (knee). Eddie Oshodi (knee) is a doubt, while former Stags Aaron O'Connor (thigh) and Curtis Osano (calf) will hope to be involved after returning to training.
One to watch: Gary Mills. The former Mansfield player has thrived on his return to Nene Park and plays a key role as a holding midfielder in the 4-3-3 formation.
Manager: Justin Edinburgh. Rushden's play-off hopes look realistically over, meaning the former Spurs man is set to fail in his bid to clinch a top-five place for the second season running
Mansfield Town could turn to Marriott for Rushden game
Evening Post, 1 Apr 11
MANSFIELD Town keeper Alan Marriott could start his first game since October against former club Rushden and Diamonds tomorrow.
The experienced shot- stopper is back to full fitness after a troublesome injury that was eventually diagnosed as a problem with his hip alignment.
Marriott has been made to wait patiently on the bench as David Grof has taken his chance to impress.
But the Stags have this week discovered the Hungarian is unable to play in the FA Trophy final at Wembley on May 7 against Darlington.
The emergency loan of Notts County man Grof runs out on April 30, after Mansfield's final league game at Bath City.
The club have asked to extend that agreement, but the FA have refused to sanction it.
That leaves Russell keen to get Marriott back involved ahead of Mansfield's big day – despite Grof's excellent recent form.
"I'm devastated for David because he has been outstanding for us.
"He has a great attitude and is a keeper I would like to keep here next season.
"It's every boy's dream to play at Wembley, but that has been pulled from under his feet.
"We have to get our other keepers games now because they don't want to be coming in from the cold at Wembley."
Russell will be forced to watch tomorrow's home game with Rushden and Diamonds from the stands.
That is after being charged with improper conduct by the FA following his comments to referee Steve Martin after last weekend's 2-1 defeat to Kidderminster.
He said: "Paul Hall will be more than capable of doing the job on the bench and has the respect of all the players."
Medley buries the hatchet to target place at Wembley with Mansfield Town
Evening Post, 1 Apr 11
AS far as footballing incentives go, you won't find one bigger and better than the opportunity to play at Wembley.
There was a point when it looked unlikely Luke Medley would ever wear a Mansfield Town shirt again.
But now, suddenly, the striker has every chance to stake his claim to play in the club's first visit to the national stadium for 24 years.
In 1987, when the club won the Freight Rover Trophy, it was the likes of Kevin Kent, Kevin Hitchcock and Tony Kenworthy who were the heroes.
Now Medley could write his own place in the club's history by starring in the FA Trophy final against Darlington on May 7.
First, though, comes the small matter of clinching his place in that team which, with ten games of the Blue Square Bet Premier campaign still to go, is by no means a racing certainty.
Having fallen out with manager Duncan Russell to the extent the Stags boss labelled his attitude as 'unprofessional', Medley was sent out on loan to Aldershot in late February and for the bulk of March.
He knows winning favour again will depend largely on him finding the back of the net regularly in the final month of the league campaign.
Playing under the arch has certainly captured the imagination of the Mansfield public, who snapped up 5,500 tickets in the first two days they were on sale.
And Medley is just as keen to be a part of that big day for the town.
"Wembley is a massive incentive that is there in the background," said the former Barnet and Bradford man.
"You know if you can play well in these games leading up to the end of the season, then you put yourself in line to play there.
"But you cannot get too far ahead, you just have to concentrate on the games coming up now.
"You have to keep working hard in training and be part of the team, not just an individual.
"I would certainly love to chip in with a few goals. I have six so far and hopefully I could get to ten by the end of the season."
Medley came straight back into the Stags side for their 2-0 defeat at Crawley on Tuesday night, starting alongside Paul Connor in attack due to the absences of the injured Danny Mitchley and Niall O'Rafferty.
The 21-year-old insists he has patched up his relationship with Russell.
Medley said: "It's good to be back because I enjoyed my time here before and the fans are great.
"I didn't know if that would be it last time. I didn't know whether I would be coming back or not.
"I didn't want to leave in the first place, but sometimes you have to take other options.
"Maybe, on reflection, it was a good time to get away. I didn't score at Aldershot, but I did get some games under my belt.
"There are certainly no hard feelings between Russ and myself now. He had his opinion and, while I did not necessarily agree with everything he said, I'm looking forward now. I'm looking at this as a fresh start and not looking behind. From the club's point of view it is like having a new player."
Although he did not net at the Broadfield Stadium in midweek, Medley is hopeful of starting tomorrow against Rushden and Diamonds.
"It was brilliant to go straight back into the team, even though we did lose," he said. "I was a bit disappointed I didn't score and I had a shot that might have gone in but for a deflection.
"It is a good opportunity for me with other strikers out injured, but I know they will be coming back and I know I will have to fight for my place. Injuries don't last that long.
"I was gutted we didn't get anything at Crawley because all the lads gave it a good go.
"We have to draw on the positives and be pleased that we kept going when things were going against us. Rushden will be a tough one, but we are capable of beating them."
Among those Medley will be trying to keep out the team is Conor Higginson, who returned yesterday from his loan spell at Glapwell.
The 19-year-old striker bagged 24 goals for the Evo-Stik Division One South club during a productive loan spell and is certainly in Russell's thoughts.
He said: "It is not just a case of bolstering squad numbers, but giving him a chance because I have been so impressed with him.
"He trains with us day in day out and doesn't look out of place, scoring some good goals.
"I rate Conor and he has a great future and I don't care what age he is. If he is good enough, he will come in.
"He loves this club, it's his life and all he wants to do is play for us. He's been itching to come back from his loan at Glapwell, but we have stood by that.
"Conor is fit and has a great attitude. He still has things to learn, but who's to say he won't be involved against Rushden?"
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