Jack Thomas will be given every chance to prove he is worth a place in this season’s improved Mansfield Town squad according to boss Steve Evans.
But the young midfielder knows his future with his hometown club could be quickly curtailed if he fails.
Still only 21, the Mansfield Woodhouse-born Stags trainee exploded onto the first team scene in 2014/15 and played a major role in securing safety, winning the Player of the Year award, despite only playing 12 games.
He has played 52 times now for the club, but his star has faded and loan spells at Hednesford United and Barrow have seen him out of the picture at the One Call Stadium.
When he was the only player of the 23-strong squad not to start either half last weekend, some fans felt this spelt the beginning of the end for him, but boss Evans said: “Far from it.
“Jack knows what we said to him at the end of last season – that he comes back and has a period of six to seven weeks to show that he can play a part here.
“He’s still a young man. Just because he played two seasons ago and probably kept the club in the Football League on his own with his own performances.
“That should never be forgotten, but we have stepped up in terms of quality who we have got and it (last weekend) was about getting minutes on the pitch for certain individuals, but Jack will be involved in two of the next four games.”
Thomas made just 11 appearances for the Stags last season from 15th October to 24th January, given just six games to impress by Evans before heading for Barrow.
He was named in the starting line-up for tonight’s friendly at Stocksbridge Park Steels.