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David Flitcroft agonised over using Mansfield Town prospect for defensive cover before making loan signing

Lewis Gibbens is presented with the Jack Retter Youth Team Player of the SeasoN.
Lewis Gibbens is presented with the Jack Retter Youth Team Player of the SeasoN.

Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft admits he agonised over whether to go with young club product Lewis Gibbens as defensive cover before he signed Ryan Sweeney on a season-long loan from Stoke City last week.

Gibbens has impressed in pre-season but, with the transfer window closing on Thursday, Flitcroft eased some of the potential pressure on the teenager to avoid potentially wrecking his development.

“I agonised whether to just go with Gibbens,” said Flitcroft.

“But once the window is shut for a five-month period is, if he had to come in and spend 12-14 weeks in the team, it could have had an adverse effect on him if it had gone wrong.

“The pressure is on us this season to win a lot of football matches, which is good.

“He is one of our own and it might be that we take a bit more time on his development.

“I think we now have sufficient cover and it gives me opportunity to move Hayden White out to a wing back position if needed.”

New boy Sweeney already has EFL loan experience at Bristol Rovers over the last two seasons.

“Ryan was an important signing with the system we play,” said Flitcroft.

“He is a young centre half used to playing in wide positions in academy football. He has the ability to do that and is left-sided, which is vital.

“He is good in both boxes and he embraces defending, so it was a no-brainer.

“I know Darryl Clarke really well at Bristol Rovers and I spoke to him at length about Ryan and knew he was a good fit for the club.”