Mansfield Town defender Ryan Sweeney admitted he was devastated to see goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik ruled out for up to a year with a serious knee injury this week.
But Sweeney, who has played a major part in helping Stags to the the division’s second best defensive record, has every faith in Conrad Logan to step back in help the club achieve glory this season.
Austrian stopper Olejnik suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in training on Friday, Logan stepping in to play well in the 45 minutes of Saturday’s abandoned game at rain-hit Forest Green, while free agent Jake Kean was quickly signed as cover.
Ahead of Saturday’s trip to Stevenage, Sweeney said: “I am absolutely gutted for Bobby. When I saw the incident I didn’t really think too much of it to be honest.
“He even said afterwards he didn’t think it was serious. So to hear the length of time he is going to be out is absolutely devastating.
“He has been absolutely brilliant since he’s come in. That boils down to what happens in training, not just what you see on a Saturday.
“In training him and Conrad push each other really well.
“When it comes down to a Saturday, whoever plays in that position is ready and able to put in a performance.
“I’m devastated for Bob as he’s been one of the main reasons for us having a good first half of the season.
“But he is a really upbeat lad and I am sure he is looking now to his recovery so he can get back as quickly as possible. I wish him all the best and hopefully he will be back sooner than later.”
Stags defend a club record 13 games unbeaten at Stevenage as well as 13 League Two games unbeaten.
“One of the reasons we have gone 13 unbeaten in the league is maintaining standards we set Monday to Friday,” said Sweeney.
“We always want to be on the front foot, aggressive in our play, and hopefully we can make that 14 on Saturday and just keep kicking on.
“We were frustrated earlier in the season by the amount of draws we were having.
“We were getting into some good positions in games but, for whatever reason, we were not seeing them out.
“Since then I think we have kicked on pretty well and we’ve got games in hand on the teams above us.
“If we can carry on our form, then I think we’ll climb the table.
“We are in a good position at the moment and it’s now about sticking a good run of form together to keep us up at the right end.”
Stoke loanee Sweeney certainly feels he has come on as a player with Mansfield.
“It’s helped me the way the gaffer sets the team up and the role he wants me to play,” he said.
“I think I have improved this season in terms of adding different qualities to my game.
“It helps a lot when you have got good players around you – they help you out, not just in the way they talk to you but in the way they play as well.
“Playing week in, week out you are going to make mistakes. It’s all about learning from them and not just growing as a player but as a person as well.
“Whoever plays in the defence or in goal always prides themselves on protecting the goal with our lives pretty much.
“It boils down to how much do you want to keep that ball out of that net? We all share that. Nothing is going to get past us.”
He added: “The other lads need a lot of credit. The defence and the keeper get recognised for the clean sheets. But look at some of the work the midfield does, the wing backs and even the strikers as well.
“We want to achieve good things this year and best defensive record is one of our targets.
“If you look at any successful team, they’ve always got a good solid base to work from.
“That’s a huge thing for us. If we can have the best defensive record in the league, that will be brilliant and give us a massive chance of achieving something good.
“That’s what we are focusing on as a team, not just the defence. If we can keep out the opposition we always believe in our attack.
“We are expansive going forward and, with the quality we’ve got, we will always score goals.”