Exeter City boss Paul Tisdale admitted he will have to patch up one or two of his battered players to face Mansfield Town in Saturday’s big game at the One Call Stadium.
City have struggled to pick up wins recently and their latest injury blow saw former Stag Craig Woodman break an arm against Yeovil last week while Jake Taylor, who took a blow to the shin in the game, is a doubt - arguably City’s two most consistent players this season.
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Other key players David Wheeler, Reuben Reid and Lee Holmes are all trying to find full fitness after knocks and Tisdale said: “It’s that time in the season, you’ve just got to patch people up and get them out on the pitch.
“Sometimes you have to compromise with the time you’d like to get the players on the training field.
“The next couple of weeks will be a case of patching players up and getting your best players on the pitch as often as you can, and sometimes you have to modify the training.
“Last week was just a step too far for them to start, I think, having missed all week I didn’t really want them to start the game and run out of steam early.
“Each week we’ll take the injury situation on face value and try to keep the whole thing moving forward without putting the players in too much physical danger too often.”
Tisdale is relishing the game with Stags able to leapfrog them with a victory.
“It’s a big game and I think we always suspected this would happen,” he said.
“Mansfield are a very strong outfit and they have been since Steve Evans took over.
“They’ve certainly been working their way up the league and I think we always envisaged this would be a tough one and a vital game and it’s certainly turned out to be that.
“We will certainly go up there expecting a team who’s going to challenge for the play-offs.
“I think everyone’s well aware it’s a hugely important match, this one.”
“We’ve got an opportunity to gain points for ourselves but also take points off Mansfield and that’s the bottom line.
“We’ve got to keep going forward and not worry what’s behind us but look above us and keep ploughing on.
“There’s a lot of football left – there’s 21 points left available and that’s a lot of points.”
He added: “It’s not all about this Saturday, we know it’s important, but we have to play the game and not the league table, the situation or the outcome of the season.
“We’ve got to play the game in front of us, minute-by-minute and try and play on instinct and sensibly.
“They understand the importance of the game but they have to focus on playing their part in the team performance.
“That is the focus we have to maintain – the more tangible each result becomes in terms of league outcome, the easier it is to be distracted by the league table.
“We have to remain focus and trust in what we do and just play the game – it’s a lot easier to say it but that is what we have to do.”