Mansfield Town were given a big boost with the news that summer signing Lee Collins has recovered from his foot injury.
But manager Adam Murray said that, with the form Ryan Tafazolli and Krystian Pearce have shown so far, there is no need to rush the former Northampton centre half into action.
“It’s good news on Lee,” said Murray. “He’s had a few weeks’ rest now. I thing we are going into our fourth week with him. I spoke to him over the weekend.
“We gave him last week off totally where he was doing his own gym work, saving him travelling in and putting pressure on the foot. But he feels great.
“If we were desperate to get him in we could probably do it this week. But, with the performances from the boys at the minute, particularly the centre halves, we are in no rush with him.
“So if it means taking an extra week to make sure he’s completely over the injury and we’re not going to risk him setting it back, then we will do that.
“He’s made great progress. We’ve spoken to the physios and they’ve done everything they can to get him to where he is and I think the treatment and recovery they’ve given him has sped up his healing process.
“The tricky bit now is that I’ve had two centre halves that have been unbelievable. What a great problem to have – someone of Lee Collins’ calibre coming back into the fold.
“But at the minute he’s going to have to fight for his shirt because the performances the two centre halves have put in so far this season have been superb.
“It’s up to them now to keep that consistency, that focus and drive, and the most pleasing thing for me is that people forget they are two young lads, to grown into that role and become leaders is part of their development as centre halves.
“I’ve spoken about it with them and Jamie (McGuire) said after the game (Friday) they didn’t shut up. He said when he went on he’d never heard anything like it. They were constantly communicating and telling people what to do and leading people. If they both carry that on, and it is a challenge for people to get that consistency, then Lee is going to struggle to get back into the team.”
Tafazolli, in particular, has caught the eye with the sort of commanding displays that brought interest in him from clubs at a higher level last January, as well as two goals this week in as many games.
“Ryan came in with a challenge this season,” said Murray “He has all the potential ability in the world. In seasons gone by, people have looked at him and gone – 7ft 8ins left-footed centre half, he is an asset.
“Taff is one of those people that needs to stay 100 per cent focused on his job and when he does that the sky is the limit for him. As soon as he takes his focus off and takes his foot off the pedal, instead of being an excellent centre half he becomes an average centre half.
“So he’s come in with a fire and a desire to say - this is my shirt. I am taking it and you’re not having it back. When he does that on a consistent basis, and anyone can do that for two, three, four games, the sky is the limit, the same as with a lot of our young players.
“When we put this squad together we knew we’d have players who could on and play at a high level. If they gain that consistency in performance then it’s up to them where their careers take them.”