Central defender crisis for Stags

Mansfield Town's Alex Iacovitti - Pic by Chris Holloway

Mansfield Town's Alex Iacovitti - Pic by Chris Holloway

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Mansfield Town are facing a central defender crisis ahead of Saturday’s visit of Crawley Town.

The club are likely to have four of their five centre halves unavailable due to injury and suspension.

But manager Adam Murray said: “Sometimes that’s the way the game goes.

“Sometimes it kicks you in the teeth and you have to take these punches on the chin and roll with it. There is no point in crying over spilt milk, we’ve got to get on with it. Our focus is positive.”

Alex Iacovitti and Kyle Howkins will sit it out after red cards at Portsmouth last weekend while Lee Collins and George Taft remain on the treatment table.

On skipper Collins, Murray said: “It is something to do with his knee.

“He did it in the Plymouth game. To be fair to him, he did it after about 20 minutes and he carried on.

“It will be touch and go for Saturday and you’re probably looking at possibly Tuesday.”

Taft (hamstring) now looks set to be longer returning than expected.

“Tafty has had a little bit of a setback,” said Murray. “He’s going to be a little bit longer.

“He started running and something wasn’t quite right. So that will take a bit more time.

“So we are down to bare bones in the centre half position on Saturday. We will mix things around and sort it out.”

The sudden crisis leaves only Krystian Pearce of the regular quintet available.

If Collins fails to make it, right back Rhys Bennett has experience there.

Otherwise, with no emergency loans now available to clubs, Mansfield may have to turn to youngsters like Corbin Shires or Keiran Harrison to come in and do a job.

“It will be a week of hard work on the training ground with a positive mental attitude,” continued Murray.

“We want to build on the performances from the last three games. I think the style we are playing and the way we’re going about it, we are creating a lot of chances.

“We created a lot of chances first half on Saturday and my only critique of us at the minute is we to start being a little bit more ruthless with our opportunities as we could have had three first half Saturday and should have had at least two.

“You can’t go to places like Portsmouth and not take chances – not just centre forwards. We are getting opportunities. At Derby we scored three goals away from home and we need to stay with that kind of ruthlessness as the thing that’s letting us down at the minute is small individual errors and we are not having enough killer edge in the two 18 yard boxes which is where games are won and lost.”