Question of the Week
How much would you accept for Omar Bogle?
By: Stephen Bateman
When it comes to fiddling, Nigel Kennedy has nothing on Lennie Lawrence. Against Crystal Palace on Saturday, it seems that the Mariners flexible friend will be tested to the maximum as he finds himself a few cards short of a deck.
It's not been a lot of fun for Town fans over the past few weeks. A run of four consecutive defeats has seen the Mariners slide back into danger at the wrong end of the First Division table, and manager Lawrence has stressed that this is a game that his side cannot afford to lose.
"We have to stop losing," said Lawrence, "but with the problems we've got at the back, it's perhaps more of a must not lose rather than a must win."
Injuries are a major concern for Grimsby - the major concern being over who will play in central defence on Saturday. It looks likely that Lawrence will ask Peter Handyside to start the match in spite of being advised to rest for six weeks after being diagnosed as having a stress fracture of the shin earlier this week.
"Peter has managed a training session. He's not going to be pain free, but he might get through it" said the ever-optimistic Lawrence. "Matthew Bloomer or Menno Willems might play with him."
Steve Livingstone, perhaps Town's most consistent performer this season, misses out through a back injury, while Bradley Allen returns after a lengthy absence.
The Grimsby manager urged the Blundell Park faithful to get behind his players as they make their first home appearance in over a month:
"It will be nice to see [the fans] again - they'll have forgotten what we look like!" joked Lawrence. "We need them to get behind us as there are some players that haven't played at Blundell Park before."
After losing to Grimsby at Selhurst Park earlier this season, the Eagles have enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance of late. Palace have gone undefeated in their last seven matches. Manager Alan Smith blasted his players after their loss to the Mariners, and his harsh words seem to have paid rich dividends.
Neil Ruddock looks set to start for Palace after shaking off a hip injury as does striker Dougie Freedman who is reported to be fit after suffering a calf injury against Tranmere last week.
Smith has injury worries of his own to contend with however, as Andrejs Rubins and Simon Rodger are definitely ruled out, and Chinese centre-half Fan Zhiyi is a major doubt.
The Mariners will be delighted to return to Blundell Park, where they have won their last four matches. Meanwhile, despite their impressive recent form, Palace have won only two away league fixtures this season.
Historically, Town edge a seventeen game series by nine to six at Blundell Park, whilst in the last five years there have been four fixtures between the sides in Cleethorpes, with the Mariners winning three to Palace's one.
The game at Selhurst Park between the two sides finished 1-0 to the Mariners on 24th October with Bradley Allen scoring a memorable winning goal.
For a complete list of fixtures between the Mariners and Palace click here
For Palace fans looking for directions to Blundell Park look no futher than our directions page.
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