Cox: 50-plus points is Stags’ survival target

Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox is ready for the survival fight. Pic by Richard Parkes.

Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox is ready for the survival fight. Pic by Richard Parkes.

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Paul Cox has set his Mansfield Town players a points target in the early 50s to ensure their League Two survival this season.

The Stags sit 20th in the table with 12 games left to play, six points above the drop zone, but having played a game more than the four teams below them.

Last season, Barnet went down to the Conference with an unusually high tally of 51 points.

With teams tightly bunched this time around, another high total is likely to be needed to guarantee Football League status and manager Cox does not want to take any chances.

“Any manager who says they do not look at the league table and look at the possible permutations is lying,” he said.

“I have heard one or two managers this week say 50 points will be fine and have set themselves that target.

“There is a massive race among clubs to get to 52 or 54 points to be absolutely sure, and we are no different.

“We have a decent little run-in, and we’ve only lost three in our last 12, but that’s not saying it is easier than the others.

“The league changes shape all the time and there is always a side who makes a run to get out of it and one or two who get dragged into it with six or seven games to go.

“We can only concentrate on picking up maximum points in the three games coming up we have in quick succession.”

Defenders Martin Riley and James Jennings are back in training and were due to play in a behind-closed-doors friendly with Alfreton tonight.

If they come through unscathed, both will be in contention for the upcoming home double header against Newport County on Saturday (3pm) and York City on Tuesday night (7.45pm), which precedes a visit to fellow strugglers Northampton Town.

Cox said: “It would be a massive boost to get those two back. JJ was playing some of his best football of the season when he got injured and we all know what Riles can do.”

The Mansfield boss has come under fire from some fans for signing Michael Cain on loan from Leicester City and then limiting him to just one substitute appearance in three games.

“I can understand people taking about that, but is just circumstances, said Cox. “He will get a run out while he’s here, that’s not a problem.

“We have numerous games coming up. If we didn’t sign anyone them we had a spate of injuries, and we were not able to fill the bench, then people would be complaining.”