Forest Green Rovers suffer blow as Jamie Collins faces layoff with injury
FOREST Green could be without their most experienced midfielder for a lengthy spell as they seek to address their flagging Blue Square Bet Premier form.
Jamie Collins had played every minute of Rovers' season prior to Saturday's clash at Mansfield Town, which ended in a third straight defeat due to Matt Rhead's 89th-minute header.
The 28-year-old did not make the trip to Field Mill after labouring with a knee problem against Tamworth four days earlier, and boss Dave Hockaday has revealed his former Watford protégé is due to undergo a scan today.
With Al Bangura also sidelined with a groin strain, Hockaday has no natural midfield ball-winner at his disposal and played defender Paul Green in the middle of the park on Saturday.
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"Jamie is going to have a scan (today) and it might not be good news with him, he's struggling at the moment," Hockaday said.
"Bangers played those three games in a week and we won all three of them, so he's a massive player for us. I don't think he's too far away but I couldn't say for sure."
Mansfield's victory left Rovers six points behind league leaders Newport County, although they count themselves unfortunate to come away from Nottinghamshire empty-handed. A clash of styles saw the Stags reliant on free-kicks, corners and the extraordinarily long throws of former Kettering Town defender Exodus Geohaghon.
It was from one of Geohaghon's missiles that Rhead grabbed the only goal of the game, punishing Rovers for failing to muster an end product from their fluent football.
Hockaday said: "We feel like we've run over a black cat or smashed some mirrors at the moment.
"I'm not knocking them (Mansfield), it's how they choose to do it, but they throw the ball into the box and we defended brilliantly.
"There was lots of shirt pulling and people barging and we got caught in the 89th minute from a long throw-in.
"We had best chances in open play and didn't take them, and it was case of if we went ahead we would have nailed the game. So I'm really frustrated.
"We'll be fine because we're a good team, but at the moment we just need to stand up and be brave and we're probably showing our naivety and youthfulness at times."
Hockaday had earlier had to make last-minute changes to his plans for the match, with left-back Chris Stokes picking up a thigh injury during the warm-up and Jared Hodgkiss thrown into action after missing the first 14 games of the campaign.
"We were going through all the set-plays and changing things literally a minute before we went out, which doesn't help," added the Rovers boss.
"I think it was seven minutes before kick-off that we made the decision to pull Stokesey out, but we had to deal with it and I thought we dealt with it manfully."
Rovers now take a two-week break from league action and host Dartford for a FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie this weekend.