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18th July 2021 13:45

Manager ‘very pleased’ with new signings
mansfieldtown.net, Thursday 15th July 2021

Boss Nigel Clough has said the club’s summer signings have ‘fitted in really well’ with the Stags over the course of pre-season training.

The manager, speaking days after his side’s pre-season opener against Retford United, says he is ‘very pleased’ with the additions that he has made ahead of 2021/22.

Nigel Clough also revealed that the Stags are still in the hunt for ‘maybe one or two’ more signings before the new campaign.

“We’re very pleased with what we’ve got and who we’ve brought in. I still think we’re maybe one or two [signings] light,” he told iFollow Stags.

“We’d like to get some in, but that will depend on outgoings, as much as anything.

"We're looking for one centre half. And we're a little bit light in midfield at times. The three are outstanding who we've got, George Maris, Ollie Clarke and Stephen Quinn, in an ideal world if one of those gets injured, we would want a very very good stand-in, but it's difficult to get somebody of that quality.

“We’re pleased with the characters that have come in so far. I think they have fitted in really well to the culture that was already here.”


Mansfield emerged as 9-1 victors in their opening clash of pre-season, against Retford on Tuesday, with new strikers Danny Johnson and Ollie Hawkins amongst the goals.

The boss said it was ‘great’ to see his new frontmen score in their first games for the club, as well as revealing that recent signing Rhys Oates may feature at Matlock on Friday.

“It was an ideal run-out for our first one [against Retford],” he added. “We’re only nine or ten days into pre-season, but we had to start the games programme a bit earlier this year.

“The players have been working over the summer, so they’re hopefully a bit fitter and we can start the games earlier.

“It was ideal to get 60 minutes into most of the lads, and then because of the six or seven we’ve got missing [due to self-isolation], we could get the young lads on.

“With strikers, it doesn’t matter the opposition. If you’re playing in your first game, you want to score. For them both to score [Ollie Hawkins and Danny Johnson], it was great.

“It’ll be a very similar squad [to Retford game for Matlock friendly]. Stephen Quinn won’t make it, but hopefully Rhys Oates might have half-an-hour.

“It’ll be the same plan - 60 minutes for the lads that start, then 30 minutes for the other lads to relieve them for the last half-an-hour.”

It was announced on Tuesday that striker Jamie Reid had signed for Sky Bet League Two side Stevenage for an undisclosed fee.

On the departure of Reid, the boss said: “We had an opportunity to sign Rhys Oates, who we think gives us something a little different in our striking department.

“Jamie [Reid] hadn’t 100 percent settled. I had a good chat with him at the end of the season, and he was disappointed in some of his own performances.

“We loved his work-rate, but with the emergence of Ty [Sinclair] at the end of last season, we think they’re quite similar.

“We probably didn’t need them both, so it was an opportunity for Jamie to move on. I had a chat with him yesterday to wish him all the best.

“It’s a fresh start for him, and we’re more than aware that he has the ability to score a few goals for Stevenage.

“But, with bringing the strikers in that we have, someone had to make way. We’re not looking for another striker now. We have nice options up there.”

There was also an injury update from the manager ahead of Friday night’s friendly at the Proctor Cars Stadium.

“He [Quinn] just rolled his ankle trying to win a header just before half-time. He’ll probably miss the Matlock game, but I think he’ll be alright for next week - it’s just precautionary.

“In terms of fitness, he’s been up there in the top four or five in the running that we’ve done. So I don’t think a few days off will do too much harm.

“I think he [Law] will be back next week sometime. He had a precautionary scan [on his ankle], which has revealed some bruising and some swelling.

“It’s still quite painful for him, but he’ll hopefully be back next week.”

To watch the manager’s interview in full, log in to mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.


Nigel Clough - Self-isolated Mansfield Town players may never catch up on fitness
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Thursday 15th July 2021

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough is concerned that players who have to self-isolate for 10 days during the pre-season programme will never quite manage to catch up on their fitness levels.

Clough has already seen seven players drop out of the carefully-constructed summer regime and admits they could now struggle to be in his thoughts for the opener at home to Bristol Rovers on 7th August.

“Pre-season is very important. For those who do a full pre-season they've got that foundation straight away and it will hopefully last for that long nine months,” he said.

“We've had six or seven players already who have had to isolate for 10 days and they are going to be behind.


“That 10 days they've missed I don't think they will catch up.

“We're looking ahead to the first game three weeks on Saturday and it puts them in doubt as they will be behind fitness-wise.

“It can affect you throughout the season.

“They are going to have to to try to catch up as quickly as possible, but it's very difficult for them to fit into normal training and do the amount of work that the others have done in that 10 days.”

Clough said the Covid setbacks were inevitable with the current rising rate of infections.

“As soon as you get everyone back in together it's a problem,” he said.

“I think it first started with the partner of one of the players.

“He had to self-isolate then there were a couple of pings and we have just taken all the precautions.

“The lads have been outside most of the time. But, when you include the Academy, we've got something like 75 people coming back to work in the first week of July, so it is inevitable.

“Our physio Tom takes all the precautions that he possibly can. But with this new variant it's very difficult to protect everybody.

“I think we have had one or two positive tests but no real symptoms so I think we're okay from that point of view.”

He added: “Some won't be back until after the weekend, so we will have to assess what condition they are in when they come back.

“That's the next stage on Monday and see if they can play any part against Grimsby on Tuesday.”

Clough is otherwise happy with how players are shaping up, adding: “It's all about hard work, rest, and getting as many minutes on the pitch as they can.

“They need to build a bit of foundation work, but they have been doing that in the summer anyway which is why we've started the games programme a little bit earlier.

“It's about game time now and a little bit of work off the pitch.”


Nigel Clough told Jake Garner of BBC Radio Nottingham, interview available on iFollow Stags, Thursday 15th July 2021:

Jake Garner: 'Corey O'Keeffe and Rollin Menayese got some minutes at Retford. Are they working their way back into your thoughts, or is it just a case of keeping them fit?'
Nigel Clough: "It's just a case of filling in for us when we needed some bodies. And being fair to them, they've trained with the first team so far. But the situation hasn't changed for them."

On Rhys Oates:
Nigel Clough: "He turned down far better deals elsewhere. Two in the Conference, one of which was 40% higher than what we're paying him. He wanted to stay in the League, he wanted to come and have a go with us here."


No shock Richard Keogh signing for Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Thursday 15th July 2021

Former Derby County captain Richard Keogh will not be signing for Mansfield Town.

Supporters began getting excited when the former Republic of Ireland captain was spotted training with the Stags last week and knowing he is without a club.

However, boss Nigel Clough said: “He just did a day with us purely as a favour.

“We know Richard from our Derby days.


“He got in touch through his agent who said Richard is just waiting for a deal at a club and could he come up and do a few days with you.

“That was planned last week but he only ended up doing one and then went off for talks with another club.”


later update: Keogh signed for Blackpool.


First outing for new Mansfield Town striker Rhys Oates in Matlock Town friendly
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

Mansfield Town fans should get their first glimpse of new striker Rhys Oates in tonight's pre-season friendly at Matlock Town.

Manager Nigel Clough who has been without seven first team players who are self-isolating, will again give his players an hour before bringing on youngsters and fringe players.

“It will the same principle at Matlock as on Tuesday, especially with the heat that has been forecast,” he said.

“Stephen Quinn and Jason Law will miss out with knocks but Rhys Oates should be included.


Stags romped to a 9-1 win at Retford Town in their first friendly on Tuesday and Clough said: “It was 60 minutes for the lads that were available and 30 minutes for the youngsters - it's always good to get them involved in a first team game. It was ideal for the first game.

“The lads were tiring about the hour mark as you'd expect so the young players were able to come on, enjoy it, and get a couple of goals.

“It was good for their confidence being in a first team environment and a few more than we hoped, or expected, got some first team minutes just because of the six or seven we have missing from the first team squad.”

Other newcomers Danny Johnson and Oli Hawkins both scored on impressive debuts and Clough said: “It looks as though the new players have settled in quite well.

“It always helps when you have a good group of players as it helps the new players settle in quicker.

“We'd still like to do a little more business with maybe one or two more. But that's dependant on players going out.”

Rollin Meneyese and Corey O'Keeffe both featured after being told they can find other clubs as they are not in Clough's plans.

He said: “They were filling in for us. We needed some bodies and it's also about being fair to them.

“They have been training with the first team so far but the situation has not changed with them.”

Clough will again run the rule over former Rotherham United youngster George Scott in tonight’s friendly.

Scott came on during the win at Retford Town and Clough said: “He made contact through a friend and I was asked if he could come in and do some training.

“We have a small group of youngsters. Whether he can break into that we'll have a look at him playing some part at Matlock.

“Next week he will have a couple of days with us and we'll see from there.

“He is a central midfielder released by Rotherham last season and I believe he was actually with us here a few years ago. I was talking to Richard Cooper so they are aware of him as well.”


New Mansfield Town striker combinations under scrutiny
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

With three new strikers signed this summer, Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough is looking forward to seeing how partnerships develop between them.

New signings Danny Johnson (2) and Oli Hawkins (1) bagged three in their first hour together in Tuesday's 9-1 friendly win at Retford Town and Clough said: “It doesn't matter who it's against, for strikers to score in their first game is always good and they will gain confidence from it.

“I think Danny and Oli have only had one training session together, so we still have quite a bit to do with them in terms of a partnership.

“We want to see which pairings work, who integrates the best, and try to strike up a good partnership.


“I think with the options we've got with them, Jordan Bowery, Rhys Oates and Tyrese Sinclair as well, there could be a few different partnerships struck up.”

The latest arrival is Rhys Oates from Hartlepool and Clough said: “Rhys gives us something different - that's what we're looking for in our four or five strikers.

“He runs beyond, gives us a bit of pace and he had a cracking last six months at Hartlepool.

“The first time we actually noticed him was around Christmas time. We knew he was out of contract and made contact with his agent early in the New Year.

“Then we just waited to see what happened with Hartlepool. He was instrumental in their promotion towards the end of the season.

“It was interesting as he turned down far better deals to come here - two in the Conference and one that was 40 per cent higher than what we are paying him.

“He wanted to stay in the League and he wanted to come and have a go with us here, which is great.”


Jamie Reid could come back to haunt us admits Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Thursday 15th July 2021

Stags boss Nigel Clough has admitted allowing striker Jamie Reid to join League Two rivals Stevenage may come back to haunt him.

Reid scored seven times in 45 outings for Mansfield Town last season and has now gone to Stevenage for a nominal fee.

Clough said it would be no surprise to him if Reid proved a success there.

“It was a very difficult one as we liked Jamie a lot and we think he's a good player,” he said.


“But I think he just wasn't 100 per cent settled.

“I spoke to all the lads individually and he said he felt there was just something missing a little bit in his first season.

“When we had the chance to bring Rhys Oates in we spoke to Jamie and we thought it was best for him to have a new opportunity somewhere.

“But we are more than aware that he has the ability to come back and embarrass us and get a few goals for Stevenage. He is a good player and he could just click.”

He added: “There was also the emergence of Tyrese Sinclair to consider from last season. We think they are quite similar players and we want to give Tyrese a good crack at it.

“If we kept both it would probably put Tyrese down the pecking order a bit.

“I had a good chat to him on the phone yesterday and he goes with our very best wishes and on very good terms with everybody here. We thank him for his year and wish him all the best, now we move on.

“But don't be surprised if he gets a few goals at Stevenage.”


Boss Nigel Clough delighted with first taste of Mansfield Town’s support
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

Nigel Clough was surprised and delighted to see and hear (edit by Martin: 651) Mansfield Town fans backing his Mansfield Town side at Retford Town on Tuesday night.

With fans locked out for over a season due to Covid, this was the first taste the Stags boss had had of the club's support since he took over in February.

A similar number are now expected tonight at Matlock Town.

“It was great. I didn't realise we'd take that many on Tuesday,” he beamed.


“I got there an hour before kick off and all I saw was Mansfield fans streaming in.

“It wasn't exactly five minutes away and it was brilliant to see them all.

“When you haven't seen your team for 18 months it's exciting for them as well.

“It was just lovely to see a crowd in, having a beer and enjoying the evening.”

Clough now can't wait to see and hear the atmosphere in the first home game with Bristol Rovers next month.

“It is a big first game for us and I think they will bring a few, depending on if there are any restrictions which I don't think we've had confirmed as yet,” he said.

“It's one to look forward to. But the friendlies we've got will enable supporters to see us three or four times before Bristol Rovers.”


Finals should not be settled on penalties believes Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough after England heartbreak
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Thursday 15th July 2021

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough said seeing England pipped on penalties by Italy in the Euro 2020 final was heartbreaking and penalty kicks should not be allowed to settle a major final.

The former England international also believed it was wrong for a player as young as 19-year-old Bukayo Saka to take the decisive final spot kick.

“It was heart-breaking,” said Clough. “I just think Italy had a bit more experience and probably deserved it on the day. That was always the thing - England are a young squad.

“But I hate penalties. I get it that you've got to decide a game and I honestly don't mind it in the group stages and the quarter and semi-finals.


“But in the final just keep playing. Play until you drop. I don't care. It's the final.

“You are not preparing for another game. It doesn't matter if you are tired. You win as a team and you lose as a team.

“It might force an individual mistake but there is 11 of you on the pitch. Don't let a final be decided on one person's shoulders.

“That's wrong. That's not the spirit of football.”

He added: “The only other thing I would say is should a 19-year-old be taking the fifth penalty.

“Experienced players should be in that position. He shouldn't carry that weight at 19 years old.

“Three or four days earlier we saw what happened with the young girl at Wimbledon. She is only young and it's just too much to put on a youngster's shoulders.

“He was carrying 55 years of expectation for that one penalty.

“Other than that is was all positive.”

Overall, he said: “It was almost the good the bad and the ugly over the tournament.

“I think what Gareth Southgate did with the team, especially getting to the final, was absolutely brilliant. And it was the manner in which they did it as well - the conduct of the players.

“It was the first major tournament that England have been in over recent times when there hasn't been anything negative coming out of the camp.

“I kept reading there were no egos in this squad - of course they have got their egos. But he persuaded them not to bring them to the England camp.

“He said 'leave your egos at the door if you're coming with us'.

“You set the tone with your captain and your senior players - Harry Kane, Harry McGuire, Jordan Henderson, Conor Coady, people like that. They set the tone.

“If the majority are decent lads the others will follow suit. I thought from that point of view they were fantastic.

“You can always pick holes in teams and selection - that is purely opinion - but I don't think the conduct of our players is up for debate at all.”

However the conduct of some fans who burst their way into the final for free, injuring people in the process was a different matter.

“It's just a shame about the scenes at the final,” he said.

“Again just a few spoil it for everybody else. Something has to be done as it's happening too often.

“They just ruin it for the vast majority of people who just want to go and enjoy what should have been the most important occasion for English football in 50-odd years.

“They need sorting out and it needs sorting out.”

Some fans believed Southgate should have been more adventurous, but Clough said: “I think first you have to be defensively solid, which they were - they only conceded a couple of goals.

“But I think there is a balance to be struck where we have such exciting young players that maybe you can let them off the leash a little bit more.

“I think that will come as the squad and this team evolve. I think that balance will improve.

“When you think from five years ago. He has now taken us to a semi-final and a final. I think there is a massive improvement there.”