PILKS ON THE MEND FROM HORROR INJURY
Keeper on the mend after horror injury
STAGS keeper Kevin Pilkington spoke this week about his horror injury as he recovered at home from a punctured lung.
Free agent Keith Welch has taken over the keeper's jersey on a match to match basis with Pilkington unsure how long he will be out for.
“It is very frustrating as I can't do anything at all at the moment,” he said.
“But something having like a punctured does put everything into perspective for you.
“It was scary for me. I broke a wrist earlier this season and in the past I have broken an ankle, done my knee ligaments. But this was worse and really brings everything home to you.
“I saw an X-ray of my chest and I could see my right lung was fine but my left lung had almost disappeared and was like a tennis ball at the bottom of my chest.
“They put a drain into my rib cage which helped re-inflate my lung and I can't do anything now until I have seen the specialist on 3rd March.
“They feel I may have cracked a rib which went into the lung though that wasn't clear on the X-ray.
“No one seems to know how long I will be out. I have been told everything from four weeks to the rest of the season.”
It hasn't taken him long to miss it all either.
“I was like a bear with a sore head on Friday as I knew the lads were playing. What made it worse was that Colchester was one of four grounds in our division I have never played at.
“If you hurt a wrist or a knee you can still carry on training either upper or lower body, running or doing weights. But I can't do anything.
“I am already missing my football as I have been doing it 11 years now and I love it.
“But if it takes the rest of the season then so be it. My health is the most important thing and if I get back sooner it's a bonus.
“I am going up to watch Manchester United train this week and catch up and then watch them play Juventus so that should cheer me up.”
No one knows exactly how the injury happened in the Notts County local derby but Pilkington feels it was when he jumped over the top of player-manager Keith Curle and landed heavily.
“After the game I was really short of breath and my chest was hurting.
“I just thought it was bruised ribs but I only live down the road so I went back to see our physio Ian Pearce who agreed with me.
“He rang me again to ask if I was any better on Sunday and I said I was about the same.
“When I went back in he got me down the hospital and after I had an X-ray I knew something was wrong.”
Until Pilkington has recovered, the vastly experienced Welch will deputise and made an impressive debut in Friday's 1-0 defeat at Colchester, getting within two minutes of a deserved clean sheet.
“Keith did well and he was busier than I wanted him to be on his debut. He did everything we asked of him.
“Keith fitted the criteria for us as we needd someone with his experience.”
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 has joined on non-contract terms on a match to match basis..
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.”
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.”
Curle back as Stags look for Capital Gain
PLAYER-MANAGER Keith Curle is back in the starting line-up for depleted Stags for Saturday's daunting trip to high-flying Queen's Park Rangers on Saturday (3pm).
Curle has not started a game since picking up a calf injury against Wycombe on 11th January.
But he confirmed this week he will be back in the side travelling to London charged with the tough task of bouncing back from the crucial 1-0 defeat at relegation rivals Colchester last Friday.
Curle's job is made no easier with Liam Lawrence, Andy White and Tom Curtis all suspended for one game after picking up five bookings apiece.
But Curle continues to be 'Mr Positivity' and said: “As one door close, another opens and this is a great chance for three other players to step in and take their opportunity to get in the team.
“I know Rangers scored four past Port Vale last weekend, but Vale are not the best opposition and I hope they have got their four goals out their systems now!
“It will be nice to catch up with Ian Holloway after the match as he was best man at my wedding and we grew up together.
“We were apprentices together at Bristol Rovers, though he was a year older than me.
“Rangers are probably one of the best footballing sides in this division and they certainly impressed me when we beat them 1-0 when I was playing at Barnsley earlier this season.
“My name and the keeper's are on the team sheet and I have ideas of what else I am going to do.
“But we will work on it in training this week and if it isn't working I'll go for plan B.”
Stags also owe Rangers one for that 4-0 home defeat at Field Mill back on 7th September when Mansfield dominated for long spells but conceded early in each half and then two late goals when chasing the game.
Curle will still have Ben Doane's services at his disposal after extending the Sheffield United full back's loan for another month.
And he was quick to quash rumours that keeping Doane meant fellow right back Bobby Hassell was leaving the club.
“I am pleased to keep Ben,” he said. “He is a good footballer and enthusiastic.
“But Bobby is going nowhere. What we need here is competition for places and that is what this gives us.”
Doane and the rest of the players were forced to sit through a video of their defeat at Colchester on Monday morning to analyse their games, good and bad.
“For their goal Ben could have sat on the ball. But he had a touch, then another touch and then got robbed - it's little things like that that prove costly.
“We had the chance to clear the ball and put them under pressure in their final third.
“But it wasn't just Ben. There were other times when players made the wrong choices in their decision-making.
“We try playing in and around the wrong areas. I give them licence to do whatever they want in the final third. But in our own half or final third they I do tell them what to do with the ball.
“It was so frustrating on Friday as we knew the three points were up for grabs for us and we came away with nothing from a team I think we will finish above which is disappointing.
“Watching the video gives player the chance to see themselves and it is very positive when players say 'I should have done that,' - we are getting good feedback from them.
“It's not a case of just picking on faults. We try to highlights the good points as well. On Friday we should have got the ball out wide more to Liam Lawrence and Wayne Corden. They got four or five good balls into the box to create scoring opportunities.
“It is a positive if we can identify the mistakes. It is not all doom and gloom. We are convincing the players that the best way forward is our way.”
Hopes that Colin Larkin might get some match practice in Monday's reserve game at home to Boston United were dashed when the pitch was declared unfit. He will now get in another week's training.
But Scott Sellars could be drafted into Saturday's squad if he can get enough football under his belt this week, depending on the weather conditions.
Neil MacKenzie was given the all-clear by a specialist to step up training on Monday and looking strong and fit according to Curle.
Curle is hoping to make a new permanent signing soon and said: “The player I want is currently unavailable. But I want to bring him in as soon as possible and may have some bartering to do.”
Latest | February 2003