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Archived News from October 2002

11th October 2002 8:56

Evening Post, 09 October 2002

Mansfield manager Stuart Watkiss has said he believes Iyseden Christie grew up during his time away from Field Mill.

Christie, who left Stags for Leyton Orient in 1999, arrived back at Mansfield this summer and has scored four goals this season, including a brace in the 6-1 thrashing of Tranmere Rovers on Saturday.

Watkiss rates Christie as the strongest player he has faced, even though their confrontations have always been on the training field.

But he says Christie's time off with a knee ligament injury means the player is wiser than when he first arrived at Field Mill on loan from Coventry five years ago.

"We knew he could be a handful and could be frustrating as well, but he has done well," Watkiss said.

"I know how much of a problem he can be because I used to play against him in training.

"I didn't face him in a match, but he has got to be the strongest player I have played against.

"He is a real handful and I am sure that Christian Edwards at Tranmere and the Northampton defence would agree.

"I think the main change is that he is older and wiser.

"Before he got injured he might have taken football for granted but then, all of a sudden, he was no longer guaranteed a living.

"He found himself out of contract at the end of the season and, over the summer, there weren't really many takers.

"Some clubs wanted to have a look at him and I think the fact people wanted to take him on trial rather than sign him made him open his eyes a bit.

"He doesn't take football for granted now and we are the ones who have reaped the benefits."

Christie signed for the Stags after failing to persuade Brian Talbot to offer him a contract at Rushden and Diamonds.

But Watkiss always believed the 25-year-old would make the step up to be a difficult striker in Division Two. He said: "It was well-documented over the summer that we were looking for strikers and, when Iyseden became available, we had to ask ourselves whether it was worth the gamble.

"I read he had been released by Leyton Orient and then I got to the office to find a note from his agent telling us he was available.

"I just thought, 'why not?'"

Watkiss said Christie, who signed a one-year deal with Mansfield, could leave himself plenty of options come the end of the season.

"He will put himself in a very strong position if he does well this year," Watkiss added.

"If he has a good season, he could have clubs fighting over him, but he has got to do it more often.

"In a way, he epitomises what we are like as a club at the moment. Everyone has to be more consistent."
Posted by Martin Shaw


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