Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox was delighted to see Liam Hearn come on to net a quickfire brace in tonight’s superb 2-0 friendly win over Leeds United.
Summer signing Hearn, bidding to return from a second career-threatening injury in two years, exploded into the game on the hour, scoring from the spot within eight minutes and adding another eight minutes later.
“It was lovely to see Liam come on after his injury situation,” smiled Cox. “He put his penalty away like he had never been away and the second goal was pure Liam Hearn to be honest.
“When you have had an injury like that, just to come onto the park is a massive statement.
“He was brought down for the penalty, then he had the mentality to get up after so long out and stick it away. It showed the kid’s character. Every centre forward is a confidence player and that will have done him the world of good. I am over the moon for him.
“It was also important to get him off the field with no reaction to the injury and we can now progress from here.”
Cox added: “It was a really good work-out tonight. The lads worked hard and I am really grateful to David Hockaday for bringing a strong Leeds squad down. That’s what we wanted.
“The scoreline does mean a little for me as it gives the lads confidence.
“These games are lovely for the supporters. We are in a nice place at the minute. We are enjoying pres-season.
“But I am really looking forward to the Grimsby and Lincoln games as they will really test our mindset.
“We will have Ryan Tafazolli and Luke Jones back on Friday so it’s all looking good at the minute.
“But I am not reading too much into pre-season.
“After tonight a lot of people will be making assumptions about us. But all I am worried about is the 9th August onwards. That’s when I want to see us peak, gel and come together.”
Cox is hoping to make a couple more signings before Friday’s trip to Grimsby.
“I want to complete this squad as quickly as possible and then get a bit of team bonding,” he said.
“I want the lads to love each other as it’s going to be a tough season. I want them to really understand each other’s personalities and become a strong unit as I know what’s coming.
“I want them to know each other intimately. I want them to laugh together and cry together as we need a siege mentality.
“We know what is in front of us. It will be a different kettle of fish when the season starts on the 9th.
“We need the supporters more than ever and I hope they will be behind us.”
Cox cast his eye over a Swiss trialist keeper against Leeds and concluded: “I though he was excellent in everything he did though probably his kicking was a bit erratic late on. He is only a baby at 22 still and he has a great personality.
“He showed glimpses tonight of what he can do. But I won’t be rushing into anything.”
Cox also gave a debut to midfielder Simon Heslop, who had signed earlier in the day. But he refused to say if Heslop’s arrival definitely marked the end of talks with Anthony Howell who has turned down a new deal this summer.
Cox said: “I want to sit down and talk to Anthony Howell before we talk about closing doors or keeping doors open.
“I have go to be respectful of the situation, Anthony and of myself. We will have a chat and decide where to go from there.”