Will Stags gamble on Hearn at Plymouth?

The sight all Stags fans will be hopoing to see on Saturday - Liam Hearn raring to go.
The sight all Stags fans will be hopoing to see on Saturday - Liam Hearn raring to go.
  • Can Mansfield edge to safety at Home Park?
  • Injury and illness worries for Murray
  • Plymouth suffering play-offs wobble

All eyes will be on Mansfield Town’s team sheet at Plymouth on Saturday to see if the name of Liam Hearn is on it.

As the Stags scrap it out for the vital win that should all but secure their League Two future at Home Park, goal ace Hearn is hoping to secure his own future as a feared striker eight months after suffering a serious knee injury.

Hearn has slowly built back his fitness and has now made 15, 45 and 83-minute reserve outings.

As Stags lurch towards a new club record low for goals scored in a season, Hearn is exactly what they have been missing.

But, with this being the third serious injury the unlucky Hearn has had to fight back from in as many seasons, Murray is well aware putting him back in too soon could end the player’s career.

“I have said from day one, it is his livelihood we are messing with,” said Murray.

We need to get our tin helmets on and strap our seatbelts on

“It’s not just a couple of weeks. But Liam is looking good and looking strong.

“It will be a decision made between the two of us and will be the right decision for Liam.

“He is doing really well. He looked strong in the reserves. He feels good. He feels well and he is not getting any reaction.

“But it is very different playing 83 minutes against 19-year-olds in the reserves and playing against League Two opposition.”

Probably needing just one more win, Stags have just hit a four-game losing streak ahead of their trip to high-flying Plymouth.

But, after the 4-1 home humiliation by York, the Easter defeats against promotion-chasing Southend and Shrewsbury saw much improved displays and deserved at least a point.

Said Murray: “It was a strange weekend. Obviously we are disappointed to lose two games but happy with the performances.

“I don’t think we have ever been as focused as at the minute. The lads are angry and disappointed with the last two results after those performances. We are very positive going into this next run of games.”

Stags head for Plymouth having scored just 11 away goals all season, and Murray said: “We are well aware of the problems this season and this group are doing their best to rectify that. But overnight we won’t pull an Ian Rush out of the wardrobe or anything like that.

“The boys are all giving 200 per cent and they can’t give any more.

“These lads are unreal and if we went into war tomorrow I would take every one of them. It is tough at the moment, but I can’t wait for the future as what lies ahead is really positive.

“We have just got have it now. We have to go for it. The York game kickstarted us and we couldn’t be in a better place.”

Murray does have injury worries over midfielders Ricky Ravenhill and Jamie McGuire and striker Vadaine Oliver as well as several players with illness as they prepare to drive down to Devon tomorrow.

“We have a few knocks and a bit of illness in the camp so we may have to have a re-jig,” said Murray. “Ricky damaged his ankle ligaments and has had intense treatment all week. But he is one of those who comes in injured, goes home and ices it and comes in and it’s healed. We will take it day by day.

“It’s the same with Jamie’s ankle and Vadaine’s shoulder. They will all be last minute ones.

“Vadaine fell on his shoulder. We asked if he was all right and he wanted to try to carry on. We kept him on as long as we could, but he looked like someone playing with one arm and we had to make the change.”

Stags are six points clear of the drop zone as they enter the final five games and Murray, who took over as manager just before Christmas when Plymouth travelled to One Call Stadium, said: “It has been a rollercoaster few months and I don’t think I could have learned any more if I had just been in mid-table and easy come, easy go.

“I am passionate as a manager and I believe in this. I want to feel everything as a manager. I want to feel the pain. It has been a great experience so far and with another three weeks and two days more of this learning curve we need to get our tin helmets on and strap our seatbelts on.

“A lot of people are having wobbles and starting to panic around us.”

Mansfield face a 540-mile round trip to the League’ furthest western outpost, and Murray added: “You have to deal with those things. But the club have been good enough to allow us to get down the night before as it’s a good old trek.

“So we will prepare as well as we can and limit the margins of failure. Then it’s up to us to perform as well as we can on the day.

“We need to get points on the board and get a win as quickly as possible. Then there will be a lot of pressure on teams below us to win more than 50 per cent of their games.”

Murray is aware that just four days after Plymouth, the club face what could be the biggest game of the season at home to fellow strugglers Tranmere Rovers and admitted: “There is a red ring around it on the calendar.

“It will be a big game and it will be a great game. But we are not taking our focus off the Plymouth game.”

Murray had tried to diffuse the pressure over the three games against Southend, Shrewsbury and Plymouth by admitting Stags were not ‘in the same ballpark’ as those clubs, but that won’t falter his belief that his side can come away with something on Saturday.

He said: “Some fans think I threw these three games away, but I thought they knew me better. If I play football with my little one in the living room I wear shinpads. There is no such thing as a given in life.”

Just one win in six has left Plymouth a point and a place outside the play-off places.