Assistant manager Ben Futcher has backed Hayden White to return ‘stronger than ever,’ after it was confirmed in this morning’s news conference that the defender suffered a broken leg in Saturday’s victory over Colchester United.
The weekend’s dramatic clash, in which the Stags overturned a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2, was marred by the nature of White’s injury, which occurred late in the game.
Stags’ assistant boss conceded that losing the defender is a ‘massive blow,’ but says the club will support him with every step of his recovery.
“Whitey has gone in for surgery this morning,” he said. “He’s fractured his tibia so it’s quite a bad one. He’ll start his recovery from this afternoon.
“He has broken his leg. Everyone is going to support him and give him everything he needs. The squad have been rocked by it.
“It’s a massive blow to everyone. He’s been fantastic for us all season and covered a variety of different positions.
“We just have to support him with every step of his recovery, and knowing Whitey, he’ll come back stronger than ever.
“I think he’ll be out for the season. We’ll be hoping to get him back as quickly as he can in the summer so he’s ready to go next season.
“We’re looking at options [to replace White]. [Losing him] is a big loss as he covers a range of different positions.
“It’s a difficult market in January. Hayden has been fantastic so it is a big loss, but we are busy looking at what’s out there.
“We’re aware of the loan situation [only being able to have five loanees in the matchday squad]. So we’re looking at free agents and players coming to the end of their contracts.
"We just have to support him with every step of his recovery, and knowing Whitey, he’ll come back stronger than ever."
“The right side [of defence] is an area that we are looking at potentially doing something if we can. On top of that, it will be dependent on the next ten days.”
Futcher says that Saturday’s remarkable comeback epitomises the ‘unbelievable character and fight’ of the Mansfield players.
“We’ve seen all season that the players have unbelievable character and fight,” he added. “They were disappointed with the first-half.
“We always believed with the players that we have in the squad that we could score goals. The next goal at 2-0 is massive, and once we got it, the stadium just felt that the second [goal] was going to come.
“The pride and desire they showed in the second-half, I thought we deserved it. We’ve only lost three games all season and the players take a lot of pride in that record.
“We knew that if we could get back to the levels we have been at all season [in the second-half], there was every chance that we could go on and win it.
“You saw in the second-half the fight, desire and quality they showed. It was fantastic, and the scenes at the end were brilliant.”
Stags’ assistant manager also reflected on the season so far, and says that at times, Mansfield have played some ‘scintillating’ football.
“I think it’s been a good season if you look at the consistent levels that the players have performed at.
“Some of the football, with the way we’re trying to play, is never going to be easy to maintain it all the time.
“The players have really bought into it and we have a lot of young players in the squad. I think at times, some of the football we’ve played has been scintillating.
“You always strive for more and want better, but with 18 games to go we’re in a good position. The lads are full of confidence and the squad is strong. We’re in a good place.
“Everyone wants to come in every day and the lads love training. Everyone loves being around the club and the fans are right behind us.
“When you have young players playing well, clubs are going to have a look. We want to keep everyone here because we have a fantastic squad and the environment around the place is brilliant.”
Yesterday, we were delighted to announce that the duo of Jordan Graham and Alistair Smith have both penned new 18-month deals with the club.
Futcher credited the work of the Mansfield academy as the reason for the pair’s success.
“With the two young lads [Jordan Graham and Alistair Smith] signing new contracts, it’s brilliant for the club and the whole town.
“It shows the work that the academy has been doing behind the scenes, which maybe hasn’t had the recognition.
“Jordan Graham has really got his head down and got himself fit. The first team lads love him and he has a big future in the game if he keeps working hard.
“The young lads know they’re going to get a chance with the first team if they’re doing well. The rewards are there for them.
“Alistair [recently] went out on loan [to Frickley] and did really well. He’s really developed and done well when he’s been with the first team.
“The academy staff have put a lot of work into these boys, so it’s a reward for them as well. Hopefully we can keep bringing them [young players] through, so we’ll have some homegrown players for years to come in the Mansfield first team.”
Next up for the Stags is a Sky Bet League Two clash at home against Tranmere Rovers, a club that Futcher says have had a ‘fantastic’ season.
“They [Tranmere] have had a fantastic season. They came up last year from the conference and Micky Mellon [manager] has done a great job.
“They’re fighting now for a play-off place in League Two and are a massive football club. They have a fantastic training ground and have a lot of experienced players.
“It’s going to be a tough game but one we’re looking forward to. It’s the top teams that we want to play, as it always seems to bring the best out of us.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Ben Futcher’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.