PREVIEWS AND TEAM NEWS FOR BURY
White can be No.1
CHAD, 26 April 2006
STAGS boss Peter Shirtliff has challenged promising young keeper Jason White to make a serious bid for the club's number one jersey next season.
White had an excellent game in the 1-1 draw with Carlisle United last weekend and will keep the shirt for the final two games, starting at Bury this Saturday (3pm).
But Shirtliff may face a central defensive crisis at Gigg Lane with Jon Hjelde (hamstring) and Jake Buxton (broken foot) out for the season and Alex John-Baptiste (hip) a major doubt.
The 22-year-old White has only played a handful of first team games this season. But Shirtliff has seen him blossom while working day to day with the vastly experienced Kevin Pressman and believes he could be ready to make a serious challenge for a regular spot next season.
"Jason has all the attributes to be a good keeper," he said.
"He has worked hard with Kevin and has learned a lot this season.
"He is a good prospect but needs to play games and get experience now. He needs to take the next step.
"I have offered him a new deal here and I think he is happy to stay and push on and challenge to be number one.
"Look at the boy Hart at Shrewsbury and all the speculation about him. Why shouldn't that happen to Jason White as well?
Shirtliff's biggest worry this week is the centre of defence when Rhys Day had three partners during the Carlisle game, finishing playing alongside striker and skipper Richie Barker.
Alex John-Baptiste faces a fitness test before the weekend and Shirtliff said; "Jon Hjelde's season is over with his pulled hamstring.
"Alex has a hip injury which is settling down. But I don't know if he will be ready for the weekend. If not then someone will have to go in thre and show what they can do.
"Richie would certainly be considered as he is experienced enough to know what is required. But I think he really wants to play up front and it would be the last resort.
"Then there is Jonathan D'Laryea. I think he could do it there for us. We'll just have to wait and see."
With so many injuries and Danny Reet suspended, the bench at Bury will probably again see youth team players drafted in to make up the numbers.
"All the players are looking forward to Saturday," he added. "We are down to bare bones again but we just have to get on with it.
"We would like to get one over on Bury as they beat us 3-0 on our own patch."
Shirtliff said all his pre-season fixtures were sorted and will be announced soon.
And he will also be sitting down with players and didcussing their futures.
"I have the nucleus of the squad I want to keep here and I know the players I want to bring in already," he said. "I want to do that sooner rather than later.
"I will be sorting our players' futures in and around the end of the season."
Bare Bones Stags Prepare for Bury
A Stags side stricken by injury is making preparations for their trip to Bury's Gigg Lane on Saturday but Stags' boss Peter Shirtliff is not despondent despite being without his regular defensive line.
Jon Olav Hjelde requested to be taken from the Field of play at Weekend after a 61st minute collision left him reeling in pain with an obvious injury to his hamstring. Alex John Baptiste later went the same way in the 78th minute with a hip injury adding to the growing list of injured players.
Gareth Jelleyman will also be out of action with a recurring knee injury. Both Jelleyman and Hjelde have had their seasons come to an abrupt end but Baptiste is hopeful that he may be able to make a return at the weekend for the trip to Bury.
" Jon Hjelde and Gareth Jelleyman are both finished for the season now but fortunately Alex John-Baptiste who retired early with a hip problem on Saturday is settling down a bit and could be ready for the Bury game. We will just have to wait and see.
"We obviously have three of our regular defence out of action but we just have to get on with it. It is a great opportunity for some of the younger players to come on and see what they can do. I am sure that the boys just want to get on with the game and are looking forward to travelling to Bury on Saturday.
"At the end of the Carlisle game Richie Barker played in Centre half and he will naturally be considered for the role again if it is necessary but I think he would prefer to play up front so playing him at the back will be a last resort. I have other options though. I think that Jon D'Laryea may be able to play in centre back as well but again we will just have to wait and see. Some of the younger players will be looking forward to a run out after watching Nathan Arnold last week who did well.
"Nathan will offer some inspiration for the young players keen on using this opportunity to break into the first team. He came on and he looked fresh and lively. He caused a few problems and with a bit of composure he might have scored a goal and there is no doubt he would have deserved it."
Meanwhile Shirtliff has other decisions to make with team selection. Danny Reet is missing following a sending off at Barnet that will keep him out for the season but Giles Coke dismissed in the same game will be making a return and no doubt play a part.
Jason White made his fifth start of the season against Table toppers Carlisle United at the weekend and earned himself a few fans along the way. The young shot stopper has been in the shadows of Kevin Pressman desperate to get a shot at first team football and with the Stags now in a position of relative safety (mathematically possible to dragged into the dogfight but unlikely) he has been given his chance, putting in a good performance the promoted Cumbrian outfit.
"Jason has learnt a lot from Kevin Pressman this season and his performance on Saturday against Carlisle was good, he made some good saves and I believe he deserved to keep a clean sheet. I know he has been frustrated that he hasn't played many games but I think he is a good prospect for the future.
"Jason has all the attributes to be a good goal keeper but he needs to play games. He has worked a lot on his game this season so hopefully this will stand him in good stead for next season. I have offered him a new contract, I like him as a player and hopefully he can make the next step. I know he his happy to stay and now it is time for him to show that he is no longer the understudy and step up to be noticed and push for the number one spot" said Shirtliff.
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