Mansfield Town midfielder Jack Thomas scored and played almost an hour in yesterday’s reserve league defeat as he continues his comeback from injury.
That put him firmly in contention for Saturday’s League Two visit of Wycombe Wanderers.
The Stags star has not played all season, but was back on the bench last weekend and all set to come on near the end of the derby with Notts until the Magpies equalised.
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However, yesterday saw him start his first game of the season and he pulled one back as Mansfield Town’s U21s suffered their second defeat in three Central League games as they lost 5-1 to an experienced Hartlepool United side at Kirklington Road.
“He’s not played for three months and only had 45 minutes pre-season, so we’ve taken a little bit more time with Jack to get his fitness up, so he is in shape,” said boss Adam Murray.
“We were going to put him on last Saturday which shows how fit he is. “But to get minutes under his belt yesterday and to nick a goal as well - he played well for the time he was on the pitch – he comes back into the reckoning for Saturday.
“He is a great option to have with his energy, his attitude and his hunger to achieve. It’s second to none.
“To put the performance in he did yesterday was really pleasing as the U21s this season is a tough gig for everyone.”
As the mini injury crisis began to ease, Murray continued: “We got Alex (Iacovitti from Scotland U21 duty) back today too which is another big boost for us. The back line is strong.
“Kyle (Howkins) is back in training and Tafty (George Taft) has started running again too, so he’s back very soon. I wouldn’t like to be a centre half as it’s right on their toes at the minute like the centre forwards.
“It gives us good options and makes us strong. Lee (Collins) and Pearcey (Krystian Pearce) have been brilliant together but, at the same time, Kyle and Pearcey looked very strong together and Alex has been a sensation since he’s come into the club, so I have some tricky headaches.
“With the run of games we are going into we’re going to need all the bodies and, touch wood, we can keep them all fit.
“I think Leicester had it last year when you get that luck for 99 per cent of the season, you get no injuries and no suspensions.
“This year we’ve suffered with with the rub of the green with a lot of injuries and it’s hampered us. But, touch wood, we’re okay at the minute.”