Fergus Bell typifies the current spirit in injury-hit Mansfield Town’s dressing room as he prepares to patch himself up and solider on against Cambridge United at One Call Stadium tomorrow.
Bell, already playing on with a strapped-up dislocated collarbone, ended the 1-1 draw at Portsmouth last weekend only able to see out of one eye after being banged on his temple by team mate Matt Rhead, who also ended the afternoon injured along with Simon Heslop.
“I remember the first half quite well. But, after a knock on my temple from Rheady, the second half is a bit of a blur,” he admitted.
“We seemed to play quite well and could have nicked in in the end. All in all it was a good performance to build on this week.
“You don’t want to bump into Rheady. I don’t know how you can mark him, he is a real handful.
“I know he picked up a knock too and I hope he is back sooner than expected as he was an integral part of the performance at the weekend.
“I have to say thanks to Portsmouth’s medical team. They spent a lot of time with me after the game. I had a bit of an issue as I couldn’t see out of my left eye, which is always a concern after a bump on the head.
“There was a worry I may have concussion. They cleared me eventually but I held up the bus for a bit. Protocol says I needed to have three or four days to recover but I am back in training today and I think I will be ready for the weekend.”
He added: “I have had a few injuries this season, first my ankle at Exeter, then my shoulder and now this.
“It is a fine line between being over-zealous and over-enthusiastic and being careful and looking after your own body. I am still finding that line.”
Bell revealed he intends to complete the season with a completely dislocated collarbone sticking up under his skin before having it operated on.
“I saw a surgeon and he recommended an operation at the end of the season to put it back into place,” he said.
“But I am fortunate in a strange way that it’s fully dislocated and won’t keep popping back in like Lee Beevers did last season.
“At first I was worried about falling on it. But now I don’t think about it before a game and once you’re out there the adrenalin gives an extra dimension.
“The operation is partly a cosmetic thing too as my vesuvius is coming out of my shoulder.
“There was a massive pain barrier to get through at first as it was a grade three, which meant all three ligaments were actually ruptured. That left a lot of inflammation around the joint. So it was the best decision to miss the Stevenage game and give it time to reduce the swelling and inflammation.
“Maybe people think I glue myself together for games. But I can play on with this. It is about 95 per cent and as good as it can be.
“As a young player having a run in the team, you want to continue that run. You don’t want to be out injured.
“I had a discussion with the gaffer and medical team and I was advised to miss the Stevenage game as it was felt I might do more damage to the shoulder.
“The fans can see a lot of us here will play through knocks. I can’t wait until we get a clean bill of health and there is real competition for places as we have some class players to come back.”
Bell has enjoyed meeting Stags supporters home and away since signing for the club in the summer after a move home from Italian club AC Monza.
“For me it’s a huge part of the football club. Of all the clubs I have been with in the past this one has the biggest family feel for a football club,” he said.
“In Italy we were kept at arm’s length from the fans. But I relish the opportunity to speak to anyone and I enjoy hearing their opinions.”
Bell knows exactly what to expect from Cambridge tomorrow and said: “We watched Cambridge on the bus last week and they blew the opposition out of the water and they have some good players.
“They play with a lot of physicality and also have some good pace. But it’s nothing we can’t match. We expect a tough game and a very physical one at that.