Although it only lasted 45 minutes as Mansfield Town boss Adam Murray tweaked his side’s shape, Matty Blair was delighted to come through his first start on Saturday since his serious knee injury at the end of January.
The winger was sacrificed for striker Adi Yussuf at half-time as Stags chased the game in the 2-0 home defeat by Wycombe, but Murray felt the outing had helped Blair remove mental barriers about how strong his knee was ahead of tomorrow’s home FA Cup tie with Oldham Athletic.
“It went brilliantly for Matty,” he said. “But I think partly the way we weren’t getting the joy out of the game we wanted first half on Saturday led us having to tweak it at half-time.
“But for his first start in eight or nine months, it was massive for him. He needed to get that in. “There was a couple of incidents where you go, mentally, you needed that as he was still only 90 per cent sure of himself in terms of challenges which you’re going to be. So we had to get that out the way and he will be better for that. Now it’s just being patient with him.”
Murray added that he would also be remaining patient with striker Matt Green, who is still trying to regain his goalscoring form after also suffering a serious injury while at Birmingham.
“I know people keep talking about Matt Green’s not scoring, but people forget that he had two years out,” said Murray.
“He has played 16 games. Now what do we do as a football club? Do we throw the towel in and go – ‘Matt, you’re not good enough’ or do we go ‘Matt, you’ve done enough at this football club for us to go we love you and we are going to stick by you because we know you will come out the other end? I know what I am going to do.”