Hitman Hearn ready to face Leeds

editorial image

Stags fans are likely to get their first glimpse of goal machine Liam Hearn as Mansfield Town prepare to take on Championship giants Leeds United at One Call Stadium tomorrow night.

And manager Paul Cox said he may have two or three new signings made by the time Stags head to Grimsby for another friendly on Friday.

Summer signing Hearn has been wrapped in cotton wool so far as he looks to get his career back on track following a serious knee injury last November.

But Hearn has been looking strong and eager in training and Cox is ready to give him a run-out tomorrow.

Also set to play is Lee Beevers, after he had also been given extra time to recover from a summer operation to secure the shoulder that kept dislocating, as well as a Swiss keeper on trial as Mansfield continue their search for a new number one.

Ryan Tafazolli and Luke Jones, both nursing pre-season niggles, will probably have to wait until Friday’s trip to Grimsby while Sam Clucas, who hurt his ankle in Thursday’s home defeat by Aston Villa, will rest up until the following week before the home clash with Walsall.

“It’s all positive news on the injuries,” said Cox. “Sam’s injury is not as bad as we first feared. He should be back the week prior to the Walsall game at worst.”

“We will have a look at a Swiss keeper against Leeds. He has looked good in the week’s training he has had with us. But we want to see how he performs under some stress.

“We need to make sure we bring in the right person. Dimitar (Evtimov) did well against County but, with all due respect, he didn’t have a lot to do that day.

“The Birmingham keeper that played against Villa was put under a lot of stressful situations, particularly in the last 20 minutes, and performed admirably. We are still talking to Birmingham and could still do something. But we must be respectful he is still a Birmingham City player.

“The Leeds game is all about fitness and getting the boys extra minutes under their belts.

“I have one or two more trialists to come in tomorrow. Then I need to make some good decisions on them.

“I am not putting a time frame on anything. But coming into the Grimsby game there may be another two signings on board.

“We are very, very close to finalising a new keeper so there may be three additional players which more or less takes us up to our quota.

“One of the two outfield players may be from the trialists we have looked at. Someone may just jump out. The other could be one of the ones we have spoken about who we have been tracking through pre-season and have had to show patience. I want to bring in the right player at the right price.”

Leeds have made five summer signings so far with Swiss international defender Gaetano Berardi coming in this week for an undisclosed fee from Serie A side Sampdoria, subject to international clearance, to join goalkeeping duo Marco Silvestri and Stuart Taylor, midfielder Tommaso Bianchi and striker Souleymane Doukara.

After the shock of having to cancel last Saturday’s Birmingham friendly on police advice, Cox is now hoping to find a replacement game.

“With Birmingham being off I would like to get in another game, even if it is behind closed doors, to help the squad knit together before the season starts,” he said.

“Losing the Birmingham game was a bit surreal. But it was something out of our control and you just have to get on with it.

“It has given the lads a bit of time to get their second breath. I gave them the weekend off so they will come back fresh and ready to go again.”

Midfielder Anthony Howell, who has been unable to agree a new deal with Mansfield, turned out for Cambridge in a friendly at the weekend.

Cox added: “I have been honest with Anthony and told him don’t put all you eggs in one basket.

“I know he played for Cambridge at the weekend. I will have a chat with him at some point today and see where the land lies. But I have no news yet.”