Influential midfielder Joel Byrom could be in line for a return to action for Mansfield Town’s big home clash with high-flying Exeter City this Saturday (3pm).
Byrom has been sorely missed over the past month as he tried to recover from a foot injury during which time Stags have slowly gone off the boil with one win in six games.
But Byrom’s progress has been good and he even had an outside chance of being in the Checkatrade Trophy squad at Notts County tonight.
Boss Evans said: “It’s no secret here – we’ve missed Joel Byrom.
“We won’t force anything. But, let’s be honest, Joel’s had three or four days with the medical department on the grass doing harder work than we would do at this stage of the season last week.
“He has been missing a long time now so he’s like a new signing.
“ Zander Diamond is the same, they were brought in as two big players and he will be back soon as well.”
Evans continued: “Joel has proved his worth and he is a real fans’ favourite with what he can do with the ball.
“You will often hear people like Chris Wilder and myself say – give Byrom the ball. He can put it on a toadstool 60 yards away. “Probably on a good day you’d ask him to take the top off it and leave the stem and Byrom can do that. There is not a lot like him at this level.
“If there are and they are younger they tend to get the moves like the boy we wanted to sign Exeter. Joel has been a big miss.”
Skipper Zander Diamond is expected to return to training this week and Evans said: “Zander is not only a miss in terms of his abilities on the pitch, but he is also a big character vocally on the pitch. At the minute we are a very quiet team.
“I heard some wise words from Graham Souness and Jamie Redknapp yesterday. Both said every successful team needs leaders and Zander Diamond by vocals and Joel Byrom by ability are leaders.
“We are hoping Zander will be training this week. One thing he is is impeccably fit – he prides himself on it. I think he sets his alarm at 3am and gets up and goes for a run – he’s nuts, but the right way nuts.
“He’s a great skipper and he was very vocal in midweek with the lads after Barnet.”
Stags also hope centre half David Mirfin could be back after a scan showed no serious damage after he limped off in midweek at Barnet.
Evans said: “The scan showed David had a minute hamstring strain.
“We’d think he might have a chance for Exeter. If he hasn’t then chances are we’ll leave him beyond Shaw Lane.”