Stags stuck in the middle of glory and disaster

Paul Cox  -Pic by:Richard Parkes

Paul Cox -Pic by:Richard Parkes

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Mansfield Town head to Morecambe on Saturday (3pm) in the strange position of still trying to avoid relegation while ignoring new speculation that they could still make the League Two play-offs.

Paul Cox’s revitalised side only lost one of their seven games in March to push themselves up to 13th and, with six games to go, now sit nine points off the play-offs and 10 points clear of the drop zone.

A mid-table finish is most realistic and Stags have just reached that magic 50-point mark which is enough for sides to stay up with most years. They know opponents Morecambe can move past it onto 51 points with a win over Stags on Saturday.

Cox said: “We know we can still finish in the play-offs and we can still get relegated.

“My main aim is to keep this club in the League. In our first season that would be a great achievement. Let’s count the games down and see where we are.

“I know what I am like – I will chase something if I am given something to chase. You never know. But I just want to finish in the top half.

“Morecambe are looking to get to that 50-point mark and I can see it being a right battle and a scrap.

“It is very easy to get above your station in this game.

“Let’s finish in a good position this season and we will have had three excellent seasons. When I came here this was a mid-table mediocre Conference club that was going nowhere. We have worked hard and put in a good infrastructure now.”

The players are back in training after two days off and will head up to Morecambe tomorrow for an overnight stay, but Cox will be without suspended pair James Jennings and Anthony Howell and injured players Ross Dyer, Ben Hutchinson, Paul Black and youngster Jack Thomas.

“Training today will be intense and we will get them focused again,” he said.

“With two suspended and Paul Black now injured as well, we are a bit threadbare at the minute. But we are not complaining. The boys are working hard and, after a couple of days off, we will go up to Morecambe with fresh impetus.

“We got some good results in March and put some decent points on the board. But the job is not done yet. Mathematically there is still a chance we could get dragged back into it.

“All we are looking at is winning the next game in front of us. That is Morecambe on Saturday. Then Saturday night or Sunday we will reassess the situation and plan accordingly from there.

“We don’t want to get too above ourselves. We want to go into the game level-headed.”

Dyer and Thomas were hurt in a midweek reserve game and Cox added: “Ross’ injury was quite a bad one and he is still waiting for the swelling to go down. Jack may be back in training today. He has a bit of an infection and a bit of bruising but nothing too serious.”