SOUTHEND PREVIEWS / SPEIGHT INJURY NEWS
Cox: Good competition for places
mansfieldtown.net, 6th February 2014
Manager Paul Cox admits a number of players are in contention for a starting place in Saturday’s Sky Bet League Two match with Southend United.
Read more at http://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/article/cox-good-competition-for-places-1343301.aspx#RzishqjIKzzsLKG3.99
Apart from Jake Speight, who has a long-term knee issue, Cox has an almost full-strength squad to choose from ahead of this match.
Our boss also received a welcome boost earlier this week as our reserve team eased to a 2-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the Final Third Development League.
Ross Dyer and Ben Hutchinson, on his return from injury, were on the score-sheet and Cox admits there were a number of impressive displays.
“The boys did well. There were some really good performances and I think it’s important to keep players match-fit now, because everyone is going to be needed,” said the boss.
“There’s a good feeling about the group at the minute. They’re getting along, have big smiles on their faces, and the performance at Sheffield Wednesday pleased me.
“Even some of the kids that came on pleased me. In terms of some of the kids coming through, the long-term future is very positive.
“But the ‘here and now’ is that we’ve got a number of players that could be in contention for Saturday, as they got a good 90 minutes in a game against a competitive side.”
Phil Brown’s Shrimpers’ team arrive at One Call Stadium this weekend, having lost just one of their previous 10 league matches and our boss knows it will be a tough test for us.
“We saw when we went down [to Roots Hall] that Southend are a good side,” said Cox.
“I don’t think we covered ourselves in glory as we ended up with nine men by the end of the game, but give them credit - they are up there and you have to pat them on the back.
“The teams that are [near the top of the table] are up there because of their consistency, and the number of good players that they have got.
“So we know it’s going to be tough, but we’ve got 17 cup finals now. Ten of those games are at home and there’s a possible 30 points to play for at home, so we need everyone pulling in the same direction.”
On the continued search to bring a new striker to One Call Stadium on a loan deal, Cox added: “There’s a lot of hard work gone in and there’s been a little bit of progress.
“We’ve highlighted certain individuals and we’re talking to representatives at clubs, players, etcetera, but I’ll be honest, there’s not a lot happening at the minute.
“It’s really early days and we’re playing catch up, so we’ve just got to keep working hard and try to bring the right player in.”
He added: “As we’ve seen, players have gone here, there and everywhere [during the transfer window] and some players that we were following have signed for sides now.
“We’ve not got as much to play with, but we’re still working hard to try and make something happen.”
No loan players yet as Stags face two big home games in four days
chad.co.uk, 06 February 2014
It is looking unlikely Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox will be able to bring in a loan striker in time for Stags’ crucial two home games in four days this week.
Stags, without a home win in their last 11 outings stretching back to 21st September, take on high-flyers Southend United on Saturday (3pm) and fellow strugglers Bury on Tuesday (7.45pm).
Cox missed out on his striker targets after being told there was no cash available for him in the January window, but last weekend learned he can bring in a loan player.
However, Cox said: “A lot of hard work has gone in. We have highlighted certain individuals and are talking to representatives, players and clubs. But nothing is happening at the minute.
“Something could happen in the next 24 hours or even early next week. But it is really early days yet.
“Players we were looking at have gone elsewhere so we haven’t as much to play with. But we are still working hard to make something happen.”
At least Cox does now have Ben Hutchinson back available for selection after he came through a midweek 2-0 reserves win over Sheffield Wednesday.
“The boys did well and there were some really good performances,” he said. “It is important we keep everyone fit now as everyone is going to be needed over this next 17 games. There is a good feeling in this group at the minute and they have a big smile on their faces.
“Ben Hutchinson scored as did Ross Dyer and there were some good performances, even from some of the kids which pleased me. The long term future of the club with some of the kids coming through looks positive.
“But it is the here and now we are concerned with and a number of players have put themselves in contention for Saturday.”
Stags crashed 3-0 against an in-form Southend at Roots Hall on 1st November and Cox said: “We didn’t really cover ourselves in glory down there and we ended up with nine men. But you have to give them credit as they are up there because they have been consistent.
“We now have 17 cup finals, and 10 of them are at home which means there are a possible 30 points to play for here, so we need everyone pulling in the same direction.
“Every team from seventh down is in a relegation battle. We have got to get our heads round it and hope we can pick up some points from this next two home games.
“We’ve got Bury on Tuesday and they have had a massive turnaround of players, I think seven or eight have moved on, and quite a lot of finance has been spent as they try to maintain their status in the League.”
One thing Mansfield have to stop is conceding injury time goals, which have cost them seven points already this season.
“Without that the picture would look very different,” said Cox. “We would be 10th and within a whisker of the play-offs. It’s all about concentration levels and decision-making.
“Last year we were able to see games out and win games. This season, if you give people opportunities in the first minute or the last you get punished.
“But against Accrington, Morecambe and Plymouth home and away, we have created enough chances to kill the game.
“It is the strikers at this level that decide games because they have that bit of quality to win games on their own.
“We have only lost one in seven but we need to start turning some of the draws into wins. Win two games and you can jump up six or seven places.
“Every manager from seventh downwards will be looking to get to 50+ points to make sure they survive this season. The biggest problem is that everyone is beating everyone else and no one is putting a run together.”
Cox admitted the off-field problems over income and the impending court case with former owners Steve Hymas and Andy Saunders demanding repayment of their loans were not helping the on-field situation.
“Since I have been here there always seems to have been politics at the club,” he said. “I am not a good politician and I don’t want to be a politician. I just try to affect the footballing side of the game. That’s all I can do.
“But I would be lying if I said it didn’t affect the footballing side.
“It affects players’ mindsets and supporters’ mindsets. Everyone is talking about other things instead of the football.
“We need everyone pulling in the same direction and getting this club safe and then bedding down next season in League football. But nothing surprises me in this game.”
Stags are waiting results of a scan on Lee Beevers’ shoulder, which he dislocated again in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Plymouth.
Cox is hoping the player will be able to strap it up and postpone any pinning operation until the summer.
One player definitely not involved this weekend will be striker Jake Speight who has now shrugged off a nasty lung infection only to see his problem knee swell up again.
Cox said: “You can’t help people getting injured or ill. Jake has been struggling with this for a long time over the festive period and is on steroids to try to clear it up.
“Then he returned to training and his knee blew up again. It is frustrating for me as a manager as he is a natural goalscorer and a very good player.”
Mansfield Town v Southend United: Match preview
By Nottingham Post,February 07, 2014
SEVENTEEN games in which to get a minimum of 18 points. That is the picture for Mansfield Town.
Read more: http://www.nottinghampost.com/Mansfield-Town-v-Southend-United-Match-preview/story-20579606-detail/story.html#ixzz2scx2jq3S
League Two remains eye-wateringly tight and Stags boss Paul Cox expects a total of at least 50 points will be needed to survive.
His side currently have 32 and sit in 20th place, just three points above the relegation zone.
It means, if they are to stay up this year, they must get at least a few wins under their belt.
"Any manager who says he's not looking at the league table from seventh downwards is lying," said Cox.
"The biggest problem is, everybody's just beating each other. There's nobody putting a run of results together.
"There's two or three teams now around us that are in the same stage as we were in November-December time in terms of they're on a run of bad results.
"There's always one who drops from mid-table into the relegation battle, but there's always one who puts a run of results together to go forward.
"You've got to be looking at 50-plus points to get yourselves out of it, I would have thought everyone was looking at that.
"Everyone is in the same boat from bottom upwards, everyone's looking over their shoulder.
"We're looking up but there will be a number of teams looking down as well.
"As we've seen, with three games in a week and Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday, a lot can change in this league."
Cox continues to stress that turning around his team's disappointing home form will be key.
Fifth-placed Southend United though, will present a tough challenge tomorrow, with Mansfield having lost 3-0 in the reverse fixture back in November.
"They are one of the best sides, we saw that when we went down there, although I don't think we covered ourselves in glory - we ended up with nine men come the end of the game," Cox added.
"But give them credit, they're up there and you've got to pat them on the back. The teams who are up there are up there because of the consistency and the number of good players they've got.
"We know it's going to be tough.
"We've got 17 cup finals now. Ten of the games are at home, which is a possible 30 points to play for.
"We need everyone pulling in the same direction."
Front man Ben Hutchinson seems likely to be included in tomorrow's squad on the back of a hamstring problem.
The 26-year-old has been sidelined for the last seven weeks, but made his comeback in midweek, finding the net as the reserves beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-0.
The club are, though, awaiting the results of a scan on Lee Beevers, who hurt his shoulder having come on as a late substitute in last Saturday's 1-1 draw at Plymouth Argyle.
The Pilgrims bagged an equaliser deep into added time at Home Park, and in total Mansfield have dropped seven points due to injury-time strikes for the opposition.
"If you put seven points on to us, the whole picture looks different," said Cox. "You're tenth in the table and a whisker away from being in the play-offs.
"It's concentration levels and it's decision-making.
"If you look at the season last year, we knew how to see a game out and how to win games.
"One thing you've got to look at this season is, if you give people opportunities, no matter if it's the first minute or the last minute, you get punished.
"Saying that, those games - the Accrington game, the Morecambe game, the Plymouth game at home, the Plymouth game away - we had numerous chances to go and kill the game, and that's the difference.
"You look at the strikers at this level of football and they ultimately decide games because of the little bit of quality they have - they win games on their own.
"We're a club in transition. We want to progress. It's just going to take a little bit of time and a little bit of patience.
"The here and now, the boys are on a little bit of a high with one defeat in seven, but we need to start turning some of those draws into wins.
"If we do that, you only have to win two games now and you jump up six or seven places.
"The sooner we can get the points on the board now, the better."
Dempster: Squad boosted by returning duo
Defender John Dempster believes that the return of Sam Clucas and Ben Hutchinson from injury is a huge boost to our squad.
Read more at http://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/article/dempster-squad-boosted-by-returning-duo-1346398.aspx#UI7QfWApRpAbodhL.99
Clucas returned to action in our 2-2 draw with Wycombe Wanderers a fortnight ago, whilst Hutchinson was on target in a 2-0 reserve team victory at Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday.
“They’re like two new signings for us,” said Dempster.
“Both are quality players and both bring a lot of positives to us in terms of going out and attacking teams. They’ll be massive for us along with every other player in the squad.
“We’ve got some massive games coming up and a tough month in February, during which we play three of the top six. So it’s massively important for us to pick up points this month and ‘kick on’ in March.”
Last Saturday, we registered an important point in a 1-1 draw from a gruelling trek to Plymouth Argyle, but would have taken all three points had it not been for Lewis Alessandra’s stoppage-time equaliser.
Reflecting on the draw at Home Park, Dempster said: “I think some of the performances infront of myself and the back three were fantastic and that makes it worse in a lot of ways.
“There have been games this season when we’ve been hanging on and managed to collect all three points or nick a draw, but that wasn’t the case on Saturday.
“I think to a certain degree Plymouth had maybe given up slightly, as they weren’t ‘throwing the kitchen sink’ at us like some teams have this season.
“It felt like we were keeping the ball well and we had the ball in their final third a lot of time during the last 15 minutes, so it was a blow to concede a goal late on.
“I don’t think many people saw it coming,” continued Dempster.
“I spoke to one of Plymouth’s senior players after the game and he was really complimentary about how we performed and commented on how well-supported we were for such a long journey.
“So there were lots of positives to take from last Saturday, but there’s no hiding away from the fact that we disappointed to concede a goal so late on.”
Reviewing our form in Sky Bet League Two this season, the 30-year-old added: “The gaffer has made it apparent to us that we need to stop conceding late goals.
“I think a lot of the time it’s a mental thing. Towards the end of the game you’re obviously more tired and your concentration can lapse. That’s probably been the case so far this season.
“It’s something that we need to improve upon, because [this division] is so tight from outside the Play-Offs all the way down to the bottom.
“It’s those fine margins, which, if you can improve, it means you can quickly shoot up the table.”
You can listen to John Dempster’s full interview on Stags Player by clicking here.
Dempster admits Stags need to play more football
Mansfield Town skipper John Dempster admitted the side need to play more football if they are to get out of trouble.
Fans have been critical of their side playing too many long balls, but Stags did keep the ball on the ground much better at Plymouth last weekend and ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Southend United, Dempster said: “The gaffer and the coaching staff have spoken to us about our quality on the ball.
“When players play too direct, we are not following orders the way we should have done at times this season.
“We have to take responsibility for keeping possession, quality on the ball and distribution. If we can improve on these it will make a massive difference.”
As one of the three central defenders, Dempster took last week’s stoppage time equaliser at Plymouth personally.
“It was a cringing blow,” he said, “Some of the performances in front of me and the back three were fantastic and that makes it worse in a lot of ways.
“We probably deserved the three points and it was a real body blow.
“Plymouth looked like they had maybe given up and were not throwing the kitchen sink at is. We were keeping the ball well and were in their final third for the last 15 minutes. It is is part of being professional and street-wise to slow it down.
“I spoke to a Plymouth senior professional afterwards who was really complimentary about how we performed and couldn’t believe where we were in the table or how well supported we were for such a long journey.
“There were a lot of positives to take out of it, but there is no hiding from the fact that we were disappointed to concede so late on.
“We have go to stop conceding so many late goals. It is definitely a mental thing a lot of the time. Towards the end of a game you are going to be more tired and concentration can lapse, which has been the case.”
He added: “From the play-off places down to the bottom, it is a fine margin and if we can improve on things we can quickly shoot up the table.
“We have a tough month ahead. We play three of the top six sides so it is massively important we pick up points this month and kick on again in March.
“Southend are one of the better sides we have seen this season while Bury have got a new manager and started picking up points. So they will both be a massive challenge for us. But we seem to have turned a corner slightly in the last couple of weeks.”
Fifth-placed Southend are now eight League games unbeaten and have only lost once in the last 15 League outings.
It’s time to start winning at home, says Riley
Martin Riley admitted the Stags have got to stop talking about home wins and actually produce some if they are to turn their season around.
Stags’ form on the road has been promotion material in recent weeks, but they haven’t won at home in their last 11 games which is why they are lingering at the wrong end of the table.
Promotion hopefuls Southend United are in town tomorrow and strugglers Bury on Tuesday night and central defender Riley said: “We have two home games, one against a team flying high and one against a team down the bottom grinding it out, and we have got to be looking to win both of them.
“I don’t feel we are too far away and we have been unlucky not to take three points from a few of our last games.
“But we have got to stop talking about it and turn draws into wins as the draws are not doing us any favours.
“Taking away points from Portsmouth and Plymouth are great results on paper, but we are disappointed not to come away with at least one win.
“But we will keep going and we have a strong belief in the team. There is no way we are going to stop working hard and fighting for that win.
“We are looking a lot better away from home at the moment, though we should have won the Wycombe game. We need to turn this home form around and there is no better time to start then against one of the top teams on Saturday.”
He added: “It is tight and it is the wins that separate you from the pack. A couple of wins and you are right back in it. We don’t want to get dragged into the relegation fight and we are already lower than we want to be.”
It is in stark contrast to the first 13 games this season, when Mansfield only lost twice.
“It is very strange and I can’t put my finger on it,” said Riley. “We did have a bad spell when we struggled to win games, but it’s a different feeling around the camp now to back then. You can tell by the way we are playing and performing on the pitch.
“The lads will stick together, but we are going to need the fans Saturday and Tuesday - they are very important and can be a massive help in turning our home form around.
“The gaffer’s record after Christmas speaks for itself and he has always had a settled side by then. Let’s see if we can crack on and do what we’ve done for the last few years again.”
Riley made his return to the side at Plymouth last weekend and said: “It is brilliant to be back. I had been itching to get back in since my little injury, though I was a bit rusty especially for the first 15 minutes when I was blowing.
“Hopefully I can get a couple of games to get match fit and be back flying again. I am now hoping I can get a solid run in the team now and hope to be in until the end of the season.”
Brown: Good week on training ground
southendunited.co.uk, Thu 06 Feb 2014
Phil Brown says the week of work on the training ground, rather than a midweek fixture has been a positive for Blues, ahead of their game away to Mansfield Town on Saturday.
Read more at http://www.southendunited.co.uk/news/article/050214-phil-brown-pre-mansfield-1343032.aspx?#LCI1rtQpQHwkZS3c.99
There was a friendly in midweek that got some players important game time, as Blues won 1-0 against West Ham, but the week of work has been a big boost according to the boss.
After three games in six days last week, Brown says maybe the lack of quality and composure in front of goal was down to slight fatigue.
He said: “We had three big games last week and two of those were at home on a very heavy pitch which might’ve taken it out the players.
“We have always worked hard this season and maybe by the end of it against Newport there was some tiredness in the camp.
“That may have shown in terms of the composure and cutting edge in the final third that I spoke about after the game.”
“But having had a week to get ready and prepare for the trip to Mansfield has been great and we’ve been able to work on some important things.
Brown has been very pleased with the work done in training this week, and also thanked West Ham United for allowing Blues to train at their place on Tuesday morning.
“That was partly thanks to West Ham, firstly for the friendly, and secondly allowing us to train there with the players not involved,” he added.
“It has been tough to do any work in recent weeks but Tuesday was a great opportunity and we benefitted a lot from it.
“This week has been good and we’ve still got two important training sessions before Saturday’s game.
“We will be heading up on the train to this one on the Saturday, so we’ve got a full day Friday on the training pitch too.”
Southend United manager Phil Brown: West Ham and 3G have set us up nicely for Mansfield Town
Thursday 6th February 2014
By Phil Brown, Southend United manager
IT’S been a good week for us in terms of preparation for Saturday’s game at Mansfield Town and the players have benefitted from the excellent facilities they’ve been able to use.
On Tuesday we had a great workout at West Ham United and the squad all charged around like lunatics as they were delighted to be able to finally train on some grass!
Yesterday we used the playfootball.net centre at the Chase and that’s also a superb facility which we’re very grateful to be able to use.
But you can only go on that kind of 3G surface so many times before it starts to cause problems for some of our players.
We have one or two players with injury concerns and the problems they have start to flare up if they stay out on the 3G for too long.
Some of the older players, who are more traditional in their thinking, also don’t really like it.
But it’s certainly been a huge help for us going there.
I’m now hoping that we can find another big space so I can get some work in with our back four ahead of the Mansfield match, and we do have real competition for places there again now.
Providing Luke Prosser comes through the operation that he’s having today with no problems then I’ll have to select between him, Adam Thompson and Mark Phillips, which will be quite difficult.
If it wasn’t for the embargo we've had in place here I would ideally like to have that competition for all the positions in our team because these are the kind of selection headaches you want.
WE'LL TAKE OUR TIME WITH LUKE O'NEILL
WE’RE being sensible with Luke O’Neill’s thigh injury at the moment and we’re making sure we don’t rush him back.
If we put him on the pitch too early then we run the risk of him suffering a setback and being out for even longer, which we certainly don’t want to happen.
I’ve spoken to Luke about extending his loan until the end of the season and I’ll be talking to [Burnley manager] Sean Dyche too.
I’m hoping the fact they managed to keep hold of Keiran Trippier will help our cause, because the ideal scenario is for us to get Luke back fit and then keep him here with us until the end of the season.
He looked very good on his debut before suffering the injury and we’re keen to see him back in action again.
Julian Bennet remains our only other injury and he’s making good progress too.
He’s back running and is certainly ahead of schedule, so hopefully he can keep that going because he’s very keen to try to earn a new deal here.
Southend United striker Barry Corr passed fit to face Mansfield Town
Southend Echo, Thursday 6th February 2014, By Chris Phillips
SOUTHEND United striker Barry Corr has been passed fit for Saturday’s game at Mansfield Town.
The Irishman was taken off at half-time against Newport County last Friday suffering with double vision.
But Corr is now back in training and will be available for selection this weekend, much to the delight of manager Phil Brown.
“Barry’s back in training and that’s obviously given us a big boost,” said Brown.
“There’s a difference between double vision and concussion which people from the medical world will understand more than me but it’s great to have Barry available because he’s an important player for us.”
Corr remains the only Shrimpers player to have featured in every game so far this season and he could well be featuring in a different kind of attack during the remainder of the campaign.
Corr has been lining up as a lone striker for most of this term before Brown opted to revert to a 4-4-2 formation against Newport County last Friday.
And the Blues boss has hinted he may now look to change systems on a more regular basis.
“The 4-3-3 formation has suited us well but I think both Lee Barnard and Freddy Eastwood are more comfortable in a 4-4-2 so we have a few options,” said Brown.
“We want to have round pegs in round holes and I think we’ve had that for most of the season.
“We’ve occasionally had Adam Thompson at right back with and John White at centre-back but I do think it’s important to have people in their natural positions.”
Latest | February 2014