Mansfield Town sweat on fitness of Stephen McLaughlin ahead of Walsall visit

The ever-present left wing back, last season’s Player of the Year, limped off with a knee injury in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Barrow and replacing him would be tricky at the moment.

“It’s not looking brilliant at the minute but things can change very quickly with Macca,” said first team coach Andy Garner.

“He is usually one of those who trains every day so a couple of days off the training pitch won’t hurt him.

Stags celebrate their winner at Barrow. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger Picture.media

“It causes us a bit of a problem to be fair, although we do have players.

“But Keiran Wallace hasn’t trained with his head injury and whether he plays is down to him. It’s out of our hands until he says he feels fine.

“You could use Jordan Bowery or Lucas Akins for Macca, but that is taking Akins away from up front. It might need a change of formation. We will make that decision on Friday.

“Hopefully Swanny (Will Swan) will be back this week and could play up front.

“Macca is not training. He is a little bit sore so we’re going to have to take it really easy with him. He’s played a lot of games so it’s not about fitness with him. We will have to see how he goes this week. We will judge him on Friday.”

Center half Riley Harbottle also came off on Saturday with an ankle injury and Garner said: “I think Riley is okay but we have to be very careful as we were short on numbers on Saturday. They are fit enough to miss training, it’s about getting the injuries right for Saturday.

“Kellan (Gordon) is running again today – no ball involved. I thought he’d have had a chance last Saturday but he had a little bit of a setback at the end of last week.

“If he gets through that hopefully he will join in later in the week.”

But Stags could welcome back midfielder Anthony Hartigan after a dislocated shoulder.

“He is training which is absolutely fantastic news – really pleasing,” said Garner.

“It’s great to get him back and hopefully he gets through training without any problems. We have missed him.”

Walsall have had an up and down start with loanee Mansfield striker Danny Johnson into double figures but not allowed to face his parent club on Saturday.

“They have just had back to back wins,” said Garner.

“Their manager (Mike Flynn) was saying a couple of weeks ago they’d been unlucky in some games in which they had dominated but didn’t get the results.

“He did very well at his old club. They are a team that has been frustrated as they’d have expected a few more wins.

“Now they’ve had two wins there will be a bit of confidence in their team. Maybe now their luck has changed.

“We expect a hard game obviously, but as long as we’re right, we will look forward to it. We will concentrate on ourselves and make sure we’re better than last Saturday, which we will be.

“Danny Johnson has been scoring the goals but he won’t be playing on Saturday. It didn’t work out for him here so good luck to him.”

Stags have six games unbeaten and can’t wait to play at home again.

Garner said: “The support helps. The fans have been incredible to us ever since we’ve been here and some of the noise they make has been fantastic. They must spur the players on – it has to. We look forward to home games and it’s been a place where we’ve played some good football and not lost many games.”

The game kicks off at an experimental earlier time of 1pm and Garner added: “We will have to see if it makes any difference.

“It makes food intake a bit trickier as they will be eating at 10am instead of 12 so it would be different foods they’re taking in – I don’t think they would want chicken, vegetables and pasta at 10 in the morning.”

Stags go into the game boosted by last weekend’s hard-earned win at Barrow.

“Away from home it’s always difficult. On Saturday it was scrappy and both teams under-performed. It was a poor game,” said Garner.

“But we said at half-time, don’t lose the game – if we have to go home with 0-0 we will do. But we stepped it up in the second half, hit the bar twice and managed to score a goal in the second half.

“We put a shift in and worked hard but didn’t get going. Both teams defended well.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​