Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft still believes Nathan Cameron could be the final piece in his jigsaw for the new season.
Powerful former Bury centre half Cameron, 26, has been training with the Stags for a couple of weeks trying to prove to his former manager that he is over his injury problems.
After five summer signings, Flitcroft said he was now probably just a centre half short and has been impressed with what he has seen of his old captain.
“He is a potential signing, but we have to make sure we make the right decision,” he said.
“Nathan was my skipper at Bury when we got promoted and he was an outstanding one. But he has since had his injury problems.
“Sometimes you can think about a player you had two years ago and those memories come flooding back.
“But we are doing this in real time and measuring him on how he is performing now – and he is exceeding expectations where I thought he’d be at. He’s now done three or four more sessions than we thought he could have done.
“He had an ankle injury towards the end of last season which saw him miss six weeks.
“He came to us with that and in the Vitoria game last week he was smashed on that ankle after about 20 seconds. Their No.10 absolutely smoked him with a really robust tackle. But he came through that. So he’s had some good tests.”
He added: “We have had Nathan training every day with us and he has played in two and a half games.
“We are assessing the situation and seeing how Nathan responds to the tough training programme. It’s all about continual assessment.
“It’s important my staff keep monitoring him and measuring if there are any changes to the injuries he’s had. It’s almost giving us an excessive medical on him.
“We need to see if we’ve got the expertise to support Nathan. It’s given us great time to spend with him and see what he can do.”
Although he has centre halves David Mirfin and Zander Diamond out injured, Flitcroft believes signing Cameron would be enough due to how well youngster Lewis Gibbens played at the Portugal training camp.
“Nathan would probably be the last one,” said Fltcroft.
“I think the emergence of Gibbo has surprised certainly me. That’s the benefit of us all going away to Portugal in such an intense atmosphere and spending that time with each other.
“I remember his first two days in Portugal he looked like a fish out of water.
“His mum came up to me on the trip and said he had rung and said ‘I was crap today mum’, then you just saw him grow from that moment. We supported him from that moment and he has been a real added bonus.”
He added: “I am not too sure there will be much movement either way over the next two weeks. But you just never know. It’s always a domino effect.
“We are making sure we have enough cover and balance in the squad. We have players that are flexible and we are experimenting in pre-season while there are no points to play for to see the full potential of the squad at our disposal.”
If things do not work out with Cameron, Mansfield may move for a young loan defender from a big club.
“We are looking at other options,” said Flitcroft.
“Two weeks ago when Championship and Premier League clubs went away they took the full quota of players. Now they will start to allow some of the younger players to not train with the first team which frees up opportunities for loans.
“A lot of clubs have done well with the younger loan signings from Championship and Premier League clubs, so that option is potentially out there.
“We are looking across the board. There are not many free transfers available in terms of a centre half with experience.
“We are looking down different avenues and we are very flexible with it and very patient. You have to get the right one.
“But we don’t need to add much else to the squad – it might just be that last piece that we do need.”