PREVIEWS AND TEAM NEWS
HEREFORD V STAGS PREVIEW
Evening Post, 12 January 2007
It has been a tumultuous last three weeks for Mansfield, yet they travel to Hereford tomorrow in appropriately bullish mood.
First came the departure of manager Peter Shirtliff before Christmas, and the appointment of replacement Billy Dearden.
Since the turn of the year, top scorer and captain Richard Barker has been sold and supporters have resurrected their protests against owner Keith Haslam with the threat of boycotting home games.
But despite all that has gone on, the players, according to central defender Jake Buxton, have retained their focus.
And well they might, because going into this weekend's games, the Stags are just one point ahead of the League Two relegation spots. They could desperately do with a win at Edgar Street.
"I wouldn't say what has gone on off the pitch has affected the players, even though there has been a mass change," said Buxton.
"We have played one-and-a-half games under the gaffer and then we have had a ten-day break where we have trained hard.
"The players are waiting for new players to come in because we expect that following the departure of Richie.
"We are sad to see him go but that's football and now we have to get on with it and get ourselves out of this mess."
Buxton admits he is not sure who is going to take over as Mansfield captain with the role now up for grabs.
But he feels it is important that everyone in the team steps up to take on some responsibility.
He said: "Richie Barker was a great leader and I don't think there is a captain among our starting 11 now.
"I think we all have to come together and try to be captains - unless someone else is brought in by the boss who is a recognised one." Boss Billy Dearden admitted a new player could be the new skipper, if he can land the right target.
"I have thought about my captain and I have a fair idea but I haven't discussed it with the players yet," said Dearden.
"I was hoping to bring someone in to captain the side but that has not developed yet."
Although the Stags boss has yet to add to his squad since joining Mansfield he is keen to seal a deal ahead of the weekend.
Dearden said: "At the moment it hasn't happened for us, but it is not through a lack of trying.
"I thought I would be able to bring in good players who are available. They still are, but their clubs are reluctant to let them go because of injuries.
"But I am still hopeful of getting those players in."
Mansfield will definitely be without Simon Brown, who is suspended after five bookings.
Danny Reet is also struggling following an ankle injury and will not figure. He has been put on programme with physio Paul Madin.
But Stephen Dawson is in the squad after playing for the reserves in midweek.
Buxton says there is life after Barker
CHAD, 11 January 2007
STAGS defender Jake Buxton has called on his team mates to stand up and be counted as they head for Hereford United.
With top scorer and captain Richie Barker sold last week, Mansfield will be up against it at Edgar Street, but Buxton said: "We all have to lift ourselves up and gel.
"Put bluntly, I don't think we have got a captain among us right now. So we have all got to step up and be captains together.
"Richie was massive for us both on the pitch and off. He would go among the young lads and lift them when they were down and was a good mentor.
"We have trained hard and we are waiting for new players to come in which we expect. But we mustn't feel sorry for ourselves.
"It was sad to se Richie go but we have got to get on with it and get ourselves out of this mess.
"Obviously we have games in hnd. But we'd rather have the six points.
"We need a result and Saturday is a bigger game than a lot of people think."
He added: "Hereford are now doing well. When we beat them 4-1 I would say they looked like one of the worst sides we've played all season.
"But they have kicked on since then and done something we've haven't which is get three or four results back to back, lose one and then get another three or four results again.
"It is a mental thing and if we could win on Saturday it would give us all a big confidence boost. And we can do it.
"No disrespect to Richie but one man is not a side.
"We have to gel as a unit. We are probably going to be hanging on for dear life but we can win there."
Worry over striker shortage
CHAD, 10 January 2007
STAGS manager Billy Dearden could face playing two tough away matches in four days with a severely depleted strike force this weekend as he searches for a replacement for Richie Barker
Fans are still furious over the club allowing top scorer and skipper Barker to join promotion rivals Hartlepool United last week with Mansfield only a point from the drop zone.
And, with Simon Brown suspended for Saturday's trip to Hereford United (3pm) and Danny Reet doubtful with a twisted ankle, Dearden is struggling on strikers with a crucial six-pointer at Accrington also ahead on Tuesday.
Dearden is striving to bring in two experienced players, at least one of which would be a striker, as soon as possible.
But is waiting on phone calls as managers, players and agents play the January window waiting game.
"You can always satisfy folk with a signing but it's no good if they prove to be the wrong one six weeks down the line," he said.
"I will not rush into a signing for the sake of it. I do have irons in the fire and am waiting on phone calls. I hope to get someone in for the wekend but if I don't we will roll up our sleevs and go with what we've got.
"With no game last weekend I have had time to get to know the players and now it's full steam ahead."
At least it seems promising young duo Alex John-Baptiste and Giles Coke are staying for the moment after Wycombe Wanderers were reportedly scared off by the size of the transfer fees slapped on their heads after an approach last week.
And he will also be boosted by the return of Irish midfielder Stephen Dawson from injury. He came through 65 minutes of a reserve run-out at Leicester City yesterday.
Stags eventually lost 5-0 against a very experienced Leicester.
But it was 0-0 at half-time before Stags played against a strong wind and brought on five first year trainees as City took a grip.
"All in all it was a very good work out or us and Dawson came through all right," said Dearden.
Unattached former Stags' striker Danny Bacon has been told he can train at Field Mill as he bids to stay fit and find another club.
Former Stags' midfielder Lee Williamson this week joined Premiership Watford from Rotherham on a three and a half year deal.
Latest | January 2007