CLOUGH PREVIEWS ORIENT GAME/ SARKIC OUT FOR SEASON
Don’t let recent standards drop - boss
mansfieldtown.net, Wednesday 31st March 2021
Manager Nigel Clough has challenged his players to maintain the ‘standards’ they have shown in recent performances over the Easter weekend.
The Stags welcome Leyton Orient to One Call Stadium on Good Friday, before making the long trip to St. James Park to face Exeter City on Easter Monday.
The boss says that, with recent performances against Forest Green Rovers and Tranmere Rovers in mind, a fruitful Easter schedule is achievable for his side.
“Their [Leyton Orient’s] front four are a big threat,” he told iFollow Stags ahead of Friday’s game. “They also have a massive incentive that they’re a few points off the play-offs.
“But I think with our home form, once again we’ll be concentrating on ourselves, and saying if we play to the standards that we have been doing at home in recent weeks, then we’ll be okay. Don’t let that standard drop.
“We’re after six [points] over the Easter weekend. That’s our aim. You just want to keep that scoreboard ticking along, and that’s what the draws have done.
“But we’re extremely disappointed that we haven’t won at least two of the last four games, which we could’ve easily done.
“We’ve generally fared very well against them [teams placed higher in the table], even if our performances haven’t got us a result.
“It’s been a good standard of performance [recently] and we know we’re not too far away.
“Saturday was a really good game again [against Tranmere]. When you think that’s off the back of the Forest Green one, two teams vying for automatic promotion, we’re more than matching them.”
Nigel Clough spoke of an in-house friendly that took place between the first team and the under-18s this week, with the view of ‘topping up’ the fitness of some players.
“We had a game for the lads that needed it against the academy,” he added. “It’s always good for the under-18s to play against the first team players, and everyone came through it.
“We had an hour, which is enough in the stifling heat we’ve had here this week. It’s good to keep the players topped up.
“Those that needed a game [played], so James Clarke, Ryan Sweeney, Jake Wright, Jaden Charles, George Lapslie, Ollie Clarke, Stephen McLaughlin, Tyrese Sinclair, Josh Scott.
"Aiden Walker got back on the pitch for 15 minutes, still got to be careful with him heading the ball. He's had a head injury that's kept him out in the last month or so.
"It was a good exercise.
“We’re more interested in the fitness output of what you get from the 60 minutes [over scoreline], for people like Lapslie and Clarke.
“We all had a good training session today [Wednesday], so it’s been a good week, ready for Friday.”
There was also an injury update from the boss, who confirmed that on-loan Blackpool forward Oli Sarkic will miss the remainder of the season with a hamstring injury.
“We did our business in January on the basis of a fully-fit squad and the way we were playing and scoring goals.
“Oli Sarkic, who we brought in as cover for Jordan [Bowery] and Reidy [Jamie Reid] is unfortunately out for the season with a hamstring injury.
“He had a couple of thigh niggles, so we didn’t see enough of him.
"Nathan Caine who we talked about in January stepping up to the first team, he's been injured since then.
"So it's been a little bit different after January than we anticipated. Very difficult to predict those things.
“I think we’re okay injury-wise at the moment, apart from that [Sarkic injury].”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
Nigel Clough told BBC Radio Nottingham (video available on iFollow):
"Oli Sarkic is out for the season. His hamstring injury is much worse than we first feared. He's gone back to Blackpool.
"It was touch and go whether he's going to need an operation on it. It was very close to a ruptured hamstring rather than a normal strain.
"He'll be 12 weeks plus. And he's got to get himself ready for pre-season. It's a big blow for him and obviously a blow for us as well.
"It's a shame we're not going to be able to see more of him."
"Nathan Caine was another we talked about getting involved in January. But he's been injured with his ankle ever since. So that's another blow in the forward area."
Mansfield Town boss wants players to put on some performances from now until the end of the season.
chad.co.uk, By Stephen Thirkill, Wednesday 31st March 2021
Nigel Clough wants Mansfield Town to lay down a marker from now until the end of the season.
Stags head into an Easter double-header at home to Orient and away to Exeter City on the back of four draws in a row.
And the Mansfield manager is keen for his team to stretch the unbeaten run and show what they can do.
“We want to make sure we are safe first and to get to the 50 points marker, that is the aim,” he said.
Read more at https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town-boss-wants-players-to-put-on-some-performances-from-now-until-the-end-of-the-season-3185159
“We have had 17 draws this season. If we turn less than 50 per cent of those into wins then we are very close to automatic promotion.
“That is how close it is and how close we are. Let’s put some good performances on in the final games and show how close we are to it.
“We take a lot of encouragement into the games., We have played most of the top teams in the last month and Saturday was another good gauge for us.
“We feel we are not too far away from the top teams with how we have played against them.
“We were a bit disappointed with a point at Tranmere and we know we are not too far away.
“It's just getting the final moments right on both penalty areas that is costing us.
“We know we are playing well and creating chances, the stats back that up. We just need to improve the final ball and to keep our concentration defending.
“We had chances against Tranmere, they did as well as it was an open game, but we didn't make enough from our good play.”
Stags will be boosted by having midweek break for the first time in 10 weeks, with Clough saying it offered vital breathing space.
“It gave us extra time to prepare for the busy time over the weekend,” he said.
“It is extra breathing space after some very congested weeks which we were in need of.
“It is good to have that little breather. Those that have played were in need of a break and the gap will help people coming back from injury to work their way back in.
“I’m proud of the players for coming through the congested fixture period, the ever presents in that have done incredibly well.”
Clough confirmed loan signing Oliver Sarkic has returned to Blackpool and is out for the season due to his hamstring injury.
“His hamstring injury is worse than we feared and he is out for the season,” added Clough.
“It was touch and go whether he would need an operation as it was close to a ruptured hamstring.
“It is a big blow for him and us. We saw little glimpses where he did really well. It is a shame we won’t see more of him.”