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OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS FOR BEARDSLEY
30/December/2002 15:44:13

Opportunity knocks for stags youth striker?
CHAD website
YOUTH team striker Chris Beardsley could find himself thrust into the Stags first team spotlight at Crewe Alexandra on Wednesday afternoon (3pm).
Beardsley (17), who has scored goals at youth and reserve team level on a regular basis this season, caught the eye when he made his full debut on Saturday for the last 33 minutes of the 1-0 defeat at Brentford.
That followed another hamstring injury to Colin Larkin.
And with Andy White already sidelined with a knee injury from the 4-2 Boxing Day success over Stockport, Stags are stretched in the striker department as they take on their bogey side of the season once more.
"We could bring in a loan if someone is available who fits the requirements," said player-manager Keith Curle.
"But clubs don't want to let their strikers out at this time of year and with us not having another game for 10 days it means paying wages to someone who isn't playing football for us.
"So the Crewe game could present an opportunity for someone like Chris Beardsley or Danny Bacon to go in and show what they can do. I would have no qualms about putting Chris in. I thought he did well on Saturday and looked exciting.
"I have spoken to Paul Holland about him and Chris is always very enthusiastic in training and deserved to be on the bench.
"It was brilliant for him to make his debut."
Beardsley was sidelined for nine months the season before last with a stress fracture of his back but has bounced back in style.
Thankfully, injured duo Larkin and White may not be out as long as first feared.
It was initially thought that White's knee ligament injury could keep him out for up to nine weeks. But it felt a whole lot better by Monday and he should be back much sooner.
Larkin also came off as soon as he felt his hamstring and that, too, is settling down well.
A further boost today is the return to the squad of midfielder Neil MacKenzie who was in sparkling form before hurting his knee and missing the last three games.
Stags have lost 5-0 and 4-0 to Crewe at home this season and were beaten 3-0 at Gresty Road in the FA Cup in Curle's first game in charge.
"I don't want people to look at today's result and say it is a yardstick of how far we have come since I took over," said Curle.
"We know this club has improved and if we lost today that would not change the fact.
"But we are going there to win. We now have the nucleus of a different side from our last trip there with three new defenders, Tom Curtis and Lee Williamson all now involved.
"We know Crewe are a good team. But we will give them a game."
On-loan Manchester City defender Rhys Day will continue in defence after Curle extended the deal for a further month, though he is keen to make it a permanent deal as soon as possible.
Another boost for Stags is that Crewe striker Dean Ashton, who scored against them in the Cup, will miss out with a hamstring injury. And their 10-match unbeaten run was ended 2-1 by visitors Oldham at the weekend.



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