Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox has revealed that youngsters Liam Marsden and Jack Thomas will make their Football League debuts before the end of this season.
The duo were both awarded professional contracts last summer and have produced several consistent displays at reserve and youth level this term.
Thomas has skippered our youth team to the higher echelons of the FCYA (Midland Division), whilst Marsden has impressed regularly in his role at right-back.
“We’ve had the two of them in the [matchday] squad and both are getting a little bit closer,” said Cox.
“I’ve got to be respectful to all the players and the fans and make sure that we’re putting out what I feel is the best team, whilst we’re not mathematically certain [to avoid relegation] and win as many games as possible.
“But they will, before the season finishes, make their debuts.”
Our boss continued: “I think Thomas has just come on ‘leaps and bounds’. He’s played in the majority of reserve games and is getting better all the time.
“He’s got a little bit of everything. He can put his foot in, pass the ball, get from box-to-box and can score a goal. With him only being 17, he’s got a good future ahead of him if he carries on learning and listening.
“For me, Marsden has been a model of consistency throughout the season. Both of them are going to thoroughly deserve their chance when they get it and I hope they grab it with both hands.”
Our manager believes our academy set-up is constantly making good progress, which was highlighted last Saturday when our Under 16s team won the Nottinghamshire Challenge Shield.
“The infrastructure of the club is improving all the time and on the footballing side I think we’re really going places as from the [Under] 14s, 15s and 16s to the kids coming through, we’ve got some good players,” said Cox.
“We’ve got a number of players in the youth team at this minute that, as well as the two, I may throw in before the end of the season, because I think they’ve made great strides.”
He added: “There are a lot of people who are working extremely hard behind-the-scenes to try and create a better future for this football club.
“The plus part is we’ve got a lot of local lads who I think are going to be coming through in the next 18 months. For me, it doesn’t matter how old someone is – if they’re good enough, they’re in the side.”
Meanwhile, our boss has revealed that the club are still assessing the extent of the injury to Lee Beevers, who dislocated his shoulder in the early stages of Saturday’s victory at Morecambe.
“’Beevs’ has run through a brick wall for the club over the last 18 months. Hopefully, we can get to the end of the season and get him looked at properly,” said Cox.
“There’s a little it of swelling that still needs to settle down and I think he’s being scanned today.
“But we’ve got to do what’s right for him. If that means he needs an early operation then so be it. If he thinks he can soldier on until the end of the season, then we’ll pat him on the back and thank him for that.”
Paul Cox's full interview will be available on Stags Player later today. To subscribe, click here.