Mansfield Town have been dealt an injury blow ahead of their League Two play-off semi-final first-leg at Newport County on Thursday.
Key central defender Matt Preston looks set to miss both legs to enable him to recover from his second concussion of the season.
The twenty-four-year-old has made forty-five appearances across all competitions for the Stags after signing from Swindon in the summer. He has been a stalwart of the meanest defence in League Two all season but a nasty blow to the head suffered when challenging Dons keeper Lee Nicholls means he is likely to miss both vital clashes against the Exiles.
His latest head injury comes after he missed five games at the start of the campaign following a collision with teammate Kristian Pearce at Yeovil in the second game of the season.
Ben Turner, who replaced the stricken Preston after nineteen minutes at Stadium MK, is likely to take his place in the side for the massively important games.
Speaking to the Mansfield Chad ahead of the game, manager David Flitcroft explained: ‘It was a bad collision he had with the keeper.’
‘He has already had concussion this season. It’s not just topical; it’s something that’s really important that the football hierarchy are trying to get right. We’re trying to put things in place. We have a duty of care to players.’
‘Matty will probably miss both games due to having concussion for the second time this season.’
Speaking about Turner Flitcroft added: ‘Turns has been unlucky and had to be patient, but he picked his opportunity up on Saturday and was really good.’
‘When you work with him every day you realise why he has played at the level he’s played at and why he’s done what’s he’s done. There is a defiance about him. He is a player I want around.’
Preston will be a big miss for Mansfield, especially in the first-leg at Rodney Parade when his heading ability and strength in the first leg would have been crucial.
Turner proved an able replacement on Saturday and has the chance to repay the faith shown in him by manager Flitcroft in the face of some criticism from supporters.
He will need to be on top of his game against a Newport side that have won their last three at home and have only lost twice on their own patch in 2019 with one of those defeats coming against Man City in the FA Cup.