BIG MATCH PREVIEW: Mansfield Town v Hartlepool United - Saturday, 11th February 2017

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BIG MATCH PREVIEW

On a run of seven League games unbeaten and sat in eighth place, two points off the pace, the Stags will go into this spell of two home games in four days against struggling clubs confident they can edge up into the play-off spots for the first time under Steve Evans.

Click HERE to read manager Steve Evans’ thoughts on the game

STAGS TEAM NEWS

Giant centre half Kyle Howkins was expected to be back in the squad for Saturday but will now play for parent club West Brom’s U23s on Monday with one eye on a return for Tuesday’s visit of Accrington Stanley.

Otherwise Evans has a wealth of riches to choose from with winger Alex MacDonald and midfielder Alfie Potter hoping on full debuts after joining on January transfer deadline day.

POSSIBLE STAGS STARTING XI: Kean, White, Pearce, Bennett, Benning; Collins; Whiteman, Byrom, Hamilton; Coulthirst, Rose.

HARTLEPOOL TEAM NEWS

Pools are unlikely to deviate much, if at all, from the side which drew 1-1 with Yeovil.

The team, which included debutants Louis Rooney and Andrew Nelson, on loan from Plymouth and Sunderland, performed with great promise.

The only possible change could be a return for ex-Stags winger Nathan Thomas, who has recovered from a groin injury which kept him out for three months.

POSSIBLE HARTLEPOOL STARTING XI

Bartlett, Donnelly, Bates, Harrison, Kavanagh, Walker, Featherstone, Nelson, Amond, Thomas, Rooney.

KEY BATTLE: Hayden White v Nathan Thomas

Former Stags winger Thomas began the season as he ended the last and scored a series of stunning goals.

But the skilled left-footer suffered a groin injury at Barnet at the start of October and has only just returned, coming unscathed through a midweek reserve game against Mansfield Town’s youngsters.

The 22-year-old remains grateful to the Stags for bringing him back to England and to then boss Adam Murray for allowing him to return home.

Loanee right back Hayden White has excelled so far and will undergo one of his toughest exams so far should Thomas start this one.

Click HERE to see video of Thomas in action for Mansfield in this fixture last season

HARTLEPOOL ONE TO WATCH: ANDREW NELSON

Nelson has joined Pools on loan for the rest of the season from Sunderland and experienced an eventful debut, setting up goals at both ends!

But the 19-year-old was very lively on the right, beating opponents and passing well and, providing he stays on his feet in his own box, there is plenty to build on.

OPPOSITION MANAGER: DAVE JONES

The 60-year-old, who replaced the sacked Craig Hignett last month, has brought the best managerial CV Hartlepool United has seen.

The ex-Stockport, Southampton, Wolves, Cardiff and Wednesday boss has returned to the dug-out after three years out of management and is desperate to make a mark.

Pools will need all his experience and expertise to lift themselves up the table, especially with a tough run of games coming up against top 10 teams.

HARTLEPOOL SEASON SO FAR

A dreadful season began full of optimism, but the side was weighed down with too many home draws.

After three early-season away wins there were hopes, once the form at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium was improved, that Pools could push for the top end of the league.

However, the away wins dried up and home form only improved partially.

Late payment of wages to the squad did not help morale either and the side ended up in the lower reaches of the table, where they still reside.

LAST MEETING

Mansfield Town 3, Hartlepool United 1 – Saturday, 21st November 2015

Mansfield Town’s agonising five game wait for a win or a goal was finally ended as they saw off Hartlepool United 3-1 at One Call Stadium, with Matt Green bagging a brace.

Green ended the drought after 474 minutes with a brave finish in the 24th minute.

An unlucky Krystian Pearce own goal then put Hartlepool back into the game on 37 minutes.

But sub Adi Yussuf netted a scorcher within three minutes of coming on in the 55th minute before Green secured the points nine minutes from the end.

Stags created many chances on a freezing cold afternoon and could have had this one safe before the break.

But United did rattle the home woodwork at 0-0 and again near the end as they plugged away

Click HERE to read the match report

Don’t forget to read the match report at www.chad.co.uk after the game.

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