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Archived News from October 2021

31st October 2021 22:40

Boss: Stags will improve form
mansfieldtown.net, Monday 25 October 2021

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough has called for his side to turn their recent, improving performances into wins as they host Tranmere Rovers at One Call Stadium on Saturday.

The gaffer is aiming to build on the side’s dominant home performance against Port Vale, despite only getting a point.

Despite Stags’ currently enduring an undesirable run of form, the manager remains positive and feels that the team ‘sense a victory is coming’.

“We need a win,” Nigel told iFollow Stags. “I do think that when we get one win we will be away [and embark on a run of form].


“Football is not played on paper, but I think we have an opportunity in the next few weeks to get some points on the board.

“I think the lads sense it is coming and I think the supporters do as well.”

Speaking about potential returns from injury for the weekend, he said: “Elliott Hewitt definitely [has a chance of playing]. I’ve seen him doing well in training, he’s had a good rest over the weekend and we are very hopeful that he will be fit.

“We hope Stephen McLaughlin gets a bit of training in too this week. They [Hewitt and McLaughlin’s injuries] weren’t long-term and McLaughlin wanted to train on Friday but we felt that we couldn’t risk his injury getting worse and it lead to him being out for three to four weeks.”

The manager feels that the squad’s morale has increased in recent weeks after promising displays in the previous two matches.

“We are in better spirits than we were a week ago [after the Northampton game].

“Although we’ve only got the one point from the two games, I think there is a completely different feel about everybody.”

On the likelihood of a potential return this weekend for right-back Kellan Gordon, the manager said: “[It’s] Unlikely. We have a game at Wigan in the Premier League Cup [this Thursday] and if he is okay then he will play 45 minutes in that. He's feeling a slight pinch in his knee when he strikes a ball.

The gaffer went on to speak of new signing John-Joe O’Toole: “He has only had a couple of light training sessions so we haven’t had enough time to fully assess him. He won’t play at Wigan but there is every chance he will play in the EFL Trophy [at home to Newcastle].”

Tranmere visit One Call stadium having lost their first league game in six outings away at Northampton last week.

The Stags’ boss is fully aware of Rovers’ threats.

“Tranmere have great experience. [Peter] Clarke and [Jay] Spearing are two of the best players in the division and it will be a tough test.”

The manager remains confident, however, that a win is imminent and will lead to a good run of form.

“Yeah, definitely,” he expressed when asked if the Stags can put a good run of form together. “I think we showed that at the start of the season.

“Not just with our victories but against top teams like Bradford and Swindon, I think we competed with both of those sides.

“When a few of the injured players come back, hopefully this weekend with the two full-backs, [Hewitt and McLaughlin] they will improve us.”

Watch the manager’s full interview now by logging onto http://www.mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.


Nigel Clough told iFollow Stags, Monday 25 October 2021:

“Ryan Stirk, we're waiting for news from Birmingham, he has got his protective boot off. We're hoping he'll be back with us from Birmingham probably the first week in November. We have some EFL Trophy and under-23s games coming up so it will be a good chance for him to get some needed game time.”

"George Cooper hopefully will play in the U23 cup game at Wigan on Thursday.

"Richard Nartey is 2-3 weeks away from being fit.

“John-Joe O’Toole has a lot of versatility; he has played in midfield but at Burton we fancied him at centre-back. He can read the game well and one of his biggest strengths is in the air. We brought him in to give us some cover at centre half in the next few weeks, but we know he can do a job in other positions as well.

"One thing we are down on is height and heading ability which in League Two is a priority. There are a lot of set plays, a lot of long throws come in to your penalty area. On Saturday we've got the two centre halves and Jordan Bowery ... after that we've got midfielders picking up, normally we'd have McLaughlin and Hewitt, so the back four would all be picking up from set plays, and then you have Jordan as well.

"You don't really want to expose youngsters when we're in the sort of run we are."


Nigel Clough hoping luck will change as Mansfield Town chase elusive win

Nigel Clough says he is hopeful his Mansfield Town side will reap the rewards they deserve as they look to end a run of 14 games without a win.

Clough is preparing his side for the visit of Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, following encouraging performances in recent weeks that haven’t warranted as many points as the Stags boss thinks were deserved.

And he’s now hoping that changes on Saturday.

He said: “The last two performances give us a lot of belief. We should have beaten Port Vale. It was a brilliant performance.


“Then we go down to Exeter with seven defenders out and get ahead and on a different day I think we'd get at least a point out of the game.

“But on the run we're in that's not happening.

“I think the mood is upbeat, despite the run and I think everyone thinks it's just a matter of time before we get that win, hopefully it's against Tranmere on Saturday, and then we'll be away.

“There are players coming back, performances have improved, that's no coincidence. It's a confidence factor now and we can get that back with a win.

“I think we've showed what we can do at the start of the season.

“Tranmere are very similar to last season. They've got good experience in Peter Clarke and Jay Spearing - two of the best players in the league.

“Clarke at centre half is 39 now and still going strong. He is instrumental in the organisation of their back four.

“He was our James Perch, we had him for that sort of thing and it would be interesting to see how they'd do if they lost him.”

As for the run of results Stags have been on, Clough believes it’s unprecedented in his own managerial career and feels it’s been down to several reasons.

He said: “I would think this is the worst run of results I've ever been involved in - I don't know statistically if that's true or not but it certainly feels like it at the moment.

“But it's not just the worst run of results, it's the worst run of circumstances that we've had to contend with as well.

“What we are feeling now is the after-effects of this run of injuries and suspensions we've had in the last few weeks and, even after two good performances, we can't get a win.

“In a normal run when you'd win a couple, draw a couple and lose a couple I think in the last two games we'd have certainly had a win.”


Mansfield boss praises young deputies as key men return for Tranmere visit

Nigel Clough hopes to welcome key players back into the fold for the visit of Tranmere Rovers this weekend - but in the meantime has praised the youngsters who have stepped in to replace them in recent weeks.

With the first team injury list having been lengthy for several weeks, Clough has had to use some players with less experience than others to help patch his side up including the likes of Ryan Burke and James Clarke.

And he feels they will only benefit from having got games, despite results not always going Stags’ way.

He said: “I think they have done well and I think they will be far better for this experience. In an ideal world you want to blood youngsters when the team is playing well with confidence. But they are learning the hard way what professional football can be like. You are in a bad run, you've got injuries, you've got suspensions and you see how difficult it is to get a result.


“They have now got that experience under their belt and can draw on it in future years as football is not always a bed of roses as we are finding out at the moment. It's a hard, hard game and even more difficult when you're low on confidence.”

As for those returning from injury, Clough hopes at least two will feature this weekend.

He said: “Elliott Hewitt had a good rest over the weekend and we are very hopeful he will be fit.

“If Stephen McLaughlin gets a bit of training this week then the same goes for him.

“They weren't long term. Certainly Elliott Hewitt could not have played under any circumstances.

“Stephen McLaughlin tried to train on Friday - he wanted to give it a go, but we were in the situation that if he'd have made it worse then we could have been without him for three or four weeks which we couldn't afford.

“It's 10-11 hours on a bus for Exeter, I don't think it would have been feasible for him to do that and play the game.

“One of the things experienced players have is that they have been through certain situations before, and you don't really want to expose youngsters in the sort of run we're in at the moment.

“The two young lads came in on Saturday and tried their socks off, but ultimately were involved in the two goals we conceded.

“We do feel if we'd had our first choice back four out we would probably have got something from the game.

“But we are in much better spirits than we were a week ago. After the Northampton game we were in a dark place after a poor performance.

“Although we have only got the one point from the two games since, I think there is a completely different feel about everybody this week.

“We are getting players back. Quinny's been back on the pitch for the last two and, without doing too much differently and in a different run of form I think we'd have had four or six points from those games.

And as for the test posed by Tranmere this weekend, Clough is under no illusions as to how big a game it is.

He said: “They're all big games when you're in the bottom two. We need a win. I think we are getting close to that and I do think when we get one win we'll be away.

“If you look at the fixtures in November I think they are a little bit more agreeable than the last few.

“I know it's not played on paper but we have an opportunity in the next few weeks to get some points on the board - and we need to.

“I think the lads sense it's coming and I think supporters do too.

“But we can't afford to give anything away as Tranmere have not conceded too many this season.”


Stephen McLaughlin told iFollow Stags, Monday 25 October 2021:

"I tore a ligament at the top of my ankle. And then my hamstring just wasn't right last Tuesday.
"I just couldn't play on Saturday (at Exeter) because it was too sore in my hamstring.
"We played ever so well on Tuesday (against Port Vale). We should have had the three points, we were absolutely devastated because of the way we controlled the game.

Asked how he would rate himself this season ...
"I thought I've contributed alright. Quite happy at the minute. But when you're not getting results, you can never be happy. I'm quite happy with my performances."


Mansfield Town's Stephen McLaughlin laments injury crisis amid hopes of return

Stephen McLaughlin has bemoaned Mansfield Town’s injury crisis as the Stags look to end their run without a victory.

The left-back was among those missing for last weekend’s defeat at Exeter City, one of several players to have been ruled out of games in recent weeks.

And, speaking earlier this week, he now hopes he’ll be able to feature against Tranmere Rovers this weekend.

He said: “I don't know if I am going to train this week yet.


“I have to see Tom, get outside and try to do a fitness test. It's early days yet so we'll have to see what happens. It's a big week for me.

“I tore a ligament on the top of my ankle and then my hamstring just wasn't right for Tuesday so I needed to sit out on Saturday.

“I got the results on my ankle on the Monday. But I wanted to play so Tom did a good job strapping it up and I got through it.

“You have to do these things sometimes and I thought we played ever so well on the Tuesday and should have had the three points.

“We were absolutely devastated after the way we played and controlled the game.

“But ultimately I just couldn't do Saturday as the hamstring was too sore.”

McLaughlin added that whilst injuries are very much part of the game, as are several hitting a squad at any given time, he feels Stags have been particularly unfortunate.

He said: “It's been a strange season and we've had a lot of things thrown at us with injuries and suspensions.

“I have been in football a long time and normally these things are spread over a season. But we've been losing two players a game. It's come within weeks and it's hard to deal with that.

“At Southend we had three long term injuries that came within the space of two weeks. But this seems to be relentless. It seems something happens every game.

“We just have to respond to it. We are getting used to it now. It's not something I'm used to and I don't think anybody is.

“To still put in the performances we have is a credit to the lads.

“The gaffer must be pulling his hair out. He can never field the same XI back to back and that's got to be tough. It's tough on the players as well as you just don't know what's going to happen.

“We just need to keep playing the way we have been playing the last two games. It's early yet, but it will change for us. We just have to stick together.

“The players that are here, the footballing players that are here like Quinny and Maris who keep the ball, Oatesy who runs all day, we've got players here. I am still excited for the season.

“Once we start getting XI on the pitch in back to back in games it's going to change. It's just a matter of time.

“I think I have contributed all right. I'm quite happy at the minute but when you're not getting the results you can't be happy.

“Personally I am happy to be playing every game, bar last Saturday.”



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