Jim wants his key men for Stags do

Jim Bentley has his eye on three points as the Shrimps begin their festive programme at Mansfield Town '¨on Boxing Day.

Friday, 23rd December 2016, 9:44 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:29 pm
Kevin Ellison is back for Morecambe after suspension (photo: Matt Rushton)

Morecambe make the trip to the One Call Stadium, looking to bounce back from last weekend’s home defeat against Cheltenham Town.

A squad hit hard by injuries and suspension lost 2-1 after Alex Kenyon’s contentious first-half red card handed Town the initiative.

Bentley will have Kevin Ellison back from suspension and James Jennings available after being ineligible against his parent club.

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It is also hoped that nine days without a game will allow Aaron Wildig and Cole Stockton to recover from their respective injuries. That recovery will also be helped by Morecambe’s players being handed Christmas Day off, rather than being called in for training.

“We’re up for every game and, although we’re going to lose games, we’re going to win games as well,” Bentley said.

“We’ll be looking to try and take something from the game but there are no easy games in the division – anyone is capable of beating anyone else.

“We have a week to try and put the Cheltenham disappointment behind us. Hopefully we’ll get one or two players back and then we can go again.”

Cheltenham’s winless run, coupled with the Shrimps’ previous home win against Plymouth Argyle, had seen Bentley’s players backed to claim three more points.

However, the manager questioned the assumption that Morecambe were automatic favourites to get the better of Cheltenham.

“People say it should be an easy win but why?” Bentley said. “We have the smallest squad and we’re struggling to train anywhere.

“Trying to do things has been like running on glue, because we have a heavy pitch.

“That’s maybe why they are picking up a couple of muscular injuries.”

Boxing Day sees Bentley crossing swords with Mansfield manager Steve Evans, just over a month after the former Leeds United boss replaced Adam Murray.

Five league games in charge at Mansfield brought victories in Evans’ opening two matches, since when the Stags have lost twice and picked up a point in their other match.

It sees Evans’ players sitting 17th in the League Two table, two places and three points ahead of the Shrimps.

The defeat to Cheltenham means Bentley’s players have a point to prove but can take heart from their impressive away results so far this season.

Consequently, Evans has warned Mansfield’s players and staff about the threat they face – and also paid tribute to Bentley’s work during his spell in charge at the Globe Arena.

He said: “They’re unpredictable. Jim Bentley has done a staggeringly good job there in the circumstances he’s faced at times.

“They’re capable of beating the leaders or losing to the bottom side, as we can be too, but they have lots of winners in their team and a manager who wears his heart on his sleeve.”