STAGS SIGN KEITH WELCH
Welch in for Stags after Pilkington shock
EXPERIENCED keeper Keith Welch has been drafted in by Stags for tomorrow night's crucial game at Colchester (Friday, 7.45pm) after it was revealed Kevin Pilkington is out with broken ribs and a punctured lung.
Pilkington suffered the horror injury during a second half collision with player-manager Keith Curle on Saturday but the seriousness of the injury has revealed itself as the week has worn on.
Bolton-born Welch (34), with over 600 appearances to his name, has been at a wealth of clubs including Rochdale, Bristol City, Northampton, Tranmere and last club Torquay United.
He is currently a free agent and will join Stags on non-contract terms on a match to match basis until Pilkington is fit which could be anything from five weeks to the end of the season.
"Keith fits the criteria for us as I believe we need someone with experience," said Curle.
"He hasn't played for five weeks or so but I am sure he hasn't forgotten what to do!"
Curle described the loss of Pilkington as: "A massive blow," and added: "I rate Kevin as one of the top two keepers in our division. He feels the injury happened in the second half during a collision with me though I don't remember it and I haven't got any bumps or bruises.
"I am getting conflicting reports as to how long he is going to be out from five weeks to eight weeks to the rest of the season. We have told Kevin to go away and have a break but keep in touch every other day. When Kevin says he's right, he'll be right.
"Kevin is absolutely gutted and distraught because he was enjoying playing and was playing well."
Pilkington felt some discomfort in his chest on Saturday night but the seriousness of the problem was not highlighted until he went to the King's Mill Hospital on Tuesday when he was kept in until Thursday morning.
Curle has spoken to teenage reserve keeper Jason White on the situation and said: "Bringing in Keith is no reflection on Jason, but we need experience right now."
Striker Iyseden Christie is fit again and will link up with the squad for tomorrow's crucuaol relegation six-pointer. But Curle is unlikely to change the side that beat neighbours Notts County 3-2 on Saturday which means the 16-goal star may have to make do with a place on the bench.
Craig Mitchell, who scored his first senior goal against Notts, picked up a slight hamstring strain in the reserves on Wednesday but should be fit enough to travel to Layer Road.
"This is another massive game for us but, the bigger the game, the better for us right now," said Curle.
"We have had reports on Colchester and know if we let them play they will do.
"They have just had two good results on the bounce and have some decent players.
"Their caretaker manager is Geraint Williams, who I played with at Bristol Rovers ,and they know how important this game is as well as we do."
Frenchman returns to Forest
FOREST striker Mickael Antoine-Curier has returned to the City Ground with Stags player-manager Keith Curle reluctant to use his final loan of the season so early.
But he stressed the door was not closed on the big French striker who has impressed in training and scored the winner in the reserve game with Scarborough on Wednesday.
"He is a game lad who chases things and scored us a goal," said Curle. "He can offer something else to us, but I have sent him back for now as I am loathe to leave myself short later in the season.
"There is no point in him staying here, though I liked what I saw, and the door is not shut on him coming back here and helping us out at some stage.
"Forest don't want to sell him as they still have high hopes for him so we would have to loan him.
"With Iyseden Christie fit again, Colin Larkin not far off and Andy White scoring goals, a striker is not a priority at the moment."
Curle confirmed he will not be inviting Spurs trialist keeper Gavin Kelly back for another game.
mansfieldtown.net reports that goalkeeper Gavin Kelly, who played in Wednesday's reserve game against Scarborough, will not be looked at again as Keith Curle is quick to explain that he had seen enough to realise that he wasn't the man for the job at Field Mill.
Colchester team news
Colchester welcome back midfielder Karl Duguid from suspension as they prepare for the home game with fellow strugglers Mansfield.
But Duguid may not get his place back in the team after Colchester stunned play-off contenders Bristol City with a 2-1 win at Ashton Gate last week.
Forward Kevin Rapley is out after failing to recover from a knee injury, and defender Mark Warren faces another month on the sidelines with a groin injury.
Mendes Was Tracked By Colchester
Colchester United coach Brian Owen reveals that one of Mansfield's most recent recruits was being tracked by the U's.
In fact, Owen flew up to Scotland to watch the Stags' frontrunner just before he moved away from St Mirren. Speaking to U's World, Owen said: “I went up to watch him playing for St Mirren at Celtic and that probably wasn't the ideal place to watch him because Celtic were too strong for them. Mansfield had obviously been watching him earlier and they took him a couple of days afterwards.”
The first team coach added: “He is capable of producing some good moments in the game but over 90 minutes he maybe goes missing from time to time. He was a young Chelsea player so he obviously had a bit of potential, but the feedback we got from Chelsea is that he is a bit lazy and didn't like to work back.”
Latest | February 2003