LOMAS ON MANSFIELD TOWN: Late signing duo could be the key parts of promotion jigsaw

Stags CEL Carolyn Radford welcomes new signing Ben Turner.
Stags CEL Carolyn Radford welcomes new signing Ben Turner.

Just when everyone thought the transfer window was closed and Mansfield Town’s squad was firmed up for rest of the season, up popped two surprise signings.

But how massively important they could turn out to be by May.

Experienced Burton Albion defender Ben Turner and hot young Blackburn Rovers midfield prospect Willem Tomlinson were released by their clubs in January so they would be free agents and therefore able to find new employers after the window had shut.

And both look to have credentials that could be just what the Stags may need in this final, crucial 15-game run-in.

Any centre half is going to find it hard to break up the trio of Sweeney/Pearce/Preston, who have the most impressive defensive record of any side in League Two this season.

But Sweeney is on nine yellow cards and Preston on seven, with 10 earning a two-game ban. And that is not withstanding red cards that will be a worry in games of the intensity of Notts County away and Lincoln City at home.

So sitting in the wings will be Turner, 31, who has played Premier League and Championship football with lengthy spells at Coventry City, Cardiff City and Burton Albion.

He moved from Coventry to Cardiff for £750,000 and was an integral part of the Bluebirds side that won promotion to the Premier League so no one can doubt his class.

Although he currently has a slight calf injury to shake off, he will provide valuable experience at the business end of the campaign.

With Hayden White out injured and the belief that David Mirfin would take too long to match sharp after so long out, the move for Turner looks perfect.

Tomlinson is at the other end of his career but has already had a taste of Championship football and is said to be a confident and all-action midfielder who likes to shoot on sight.

Once again, it’s hard to see him breaking straight into one of the best midfields the club has ever seen.

But Neal Bishop is on nine yellow cards and it would only take him to be suspended for three games and other to be injured to leave Stags short in that department.

Alex MacDonald is on his way back from injury and Otis Khan hoping to to recapture his early season form after shaking off his own injury.

But having a hungry youngster champing at the bit alongside them serve only to spur them on to greater things with the increased competition.

Seeing Stags in second place and only two points off top of the table in February is a thrill for all concerned with the club.

The snowdrops and bulbs are poking through in the garden, holidays are being booked and there are just seven massive home games and eight massive away games remaining.

The rosy situation is certainly hugely down to the patience and investment of owner John Radford who is rightly cheered and has his name chanted at games.

But the current manager is the one who has brought in the crucial few faces and put this side where they are with his tactics and coaching.

Yet he seems to get less chants than any Stags boss I can remember since Carlton Palmer. Actually Carlton did get plenty of chants but none he would have wanted to hear!

Maybe Flitcroft is still suffering from the hangover of last season’s promotion failure.

But, personally, I think a bit more love for the manager would not go amiss from the growing army of supporters turning out for games now he has the Stags riding high as serious contenders.