FLEETWOOD Town attacker Andy Mangan could be sidelined for up to five months after medics finally pinpointed the cause of his knee trouble.
Mangan visited a specialist, then revealed on Twitter: “I’ve torn my cartilage! Will be out between four to five months!
“All the messages mean a lot. I’m a fighter, will come back a different animal!”
The winger, a key member of Town’s Conference-winning side, last played for the first-team at Bristol Rovers last month. His only football since was in a reserve outing against Blackpool, when he broke down again.
Manager Micky Mellon said: “It’s a massive blow for us, but more importantly it’s a massive blow for the boy
“He was such a big part of getting us into the Football League and he deserved as much as anybody to be playing his part with the club this season.
“He’ll have support from me and from the whole team in getting through this.
“He’s a great lad and everyone’s got so much time for him.
“It’s good that after weeks of uncertainty we finally know what it is. We now know what we’re dealing with and we can look for a solution.
“He’ll have the operation he needs and the time to recuperate, then we’ll all work as hard as we can to get him back and ready for action, although we won’t bring him back until he’s ready.”
Fleetwood do have options to cover for Mangan’s extended absence with Barry Nicholson, alongside on-loan duo Tom Barkhuizen and Curtis Obeng.
Mellon said: “This will be an opportunity for someone. Tom’s been fantastic and played really well at Chesterfield, we’ve got Curtis Obeng in from Swansea and Junior Brown has really blossomed. They are all great players who will be looking for a run in the team.”
Defenders Steve McNulty and Shaun Beeley are also injured.
The 21-year-old, a summer capture from Preston, impressed at Chesterfield in midweek and said: “I’ve had to be patient to get my chance. I feel for Shaun with the injury but it’s my opportunity to get a few games and who knows?
“It’s my time to show the gaffer what I can do and I’ll be doing everything I can to make that position mine.”
And with plenty of pace, the Northern Ireland U21 is well placed to fit in with Town’s attacking style.
Mellon has said he expects his full-backs to push forward and deal with one on one situations – something McLaughlin is comfortable with.
He said: “It’s part of the modern game and something we’re expected to do. We do a lot of work on one-v-one situations.”
Town travel to Rochdale today and McLaughlin added: “It’s going to be a difficult game, just like Tuesday night.
“Tuesday night’s win made a massive difference because we all knew we hadn’t been at our best against Wycombe or Wimbledon. It’s important that you keep going and try to keep a clean sheet”
McLaughlin isn’t surprised to see Town in the top three. He added: “After winning the Conference the way they did, I had a feeling Fleetwood would do well, like Crawley and Stevenage before them. But we know there’s a lot of hard work to do.”