CLOUGH PREVIEWS HARTLEPOOL GAME
Nigel Clough told iFollow Stags, Tues 21 Dec 2021:
"Diane our secretary has been in touch with Hartlepool and they have said at the moment that the players who are isolating should be back and there's no reason why the game shouldn't go ahead on Boxing Day. We know that can change on a day to day basis but at the moment we are preparing for the game."
"We're testing every day at the moment. Touch wood we're all clear this morning, we've just got the one positive that's off at the moment (*), but everybody else is clear and we'll do everything we can to keep it like that."
(*) player not named in this interview, but Nigel Clough revealed last week that Jason Law tested positive before getting on the coach to Sunderland, 8 days ago.
Nigel Clough on John-Joe O’Toole:
"John-Joe O’Toole is back and available again after illness, so that’s a bonus for us."
on trying to agree a new contract with O'Toole:
"We're very conf ... not confident ... but we're optimistic we can get a deal agreed with him. Talks are ongoing. He's been off ill for the last week or so, so it's been on hold a little bit, but we'll crack on with it this week."
Stags ready for Boxing Day battle - Clough
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 21 Dec 2021
Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough welcomes the test of hosting Hartlepool United for ‘one of the biggest games of the season’ on Boxing Day.
The Stags’ match against the Pools will be Mansfield’s first in over two weeks after last weekend’s scheduled match at Forest Green Rovers was postponed.
Speaking to iFollow Stags, the boss highlighted the traditional significance of the festive fixture.
“Boxing Day is one of those things that is engrained in football. The Boxing Day fixture is one of the biggest of the season [and] one of the biggest crowds,” he said.
“Everybody has a nice Christmas Day at home and then a lot of people want to go to football on Boxing Day. It’s imperative that we try and keep that [tradition] in place.”
read more at https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2021/december/stags-ready-for-boxing-day-battle---clough/
Sunday’s visitors, Hartlepool, visit One Call Stadium this weekend for the first time since 2017.
“I was pleased for them when they got promoted,” said the manager.
“They had been out [of the EFL] for too long and they’re a good enough club to be up there.
“A lot of work and effort has gone to get them back in there.
“We ‘pinched’ one of their strikers in the summer, Rhys Oates, and I think another one, Armstrong, went to Harrogate. Probably the two best attacking threats they had.
“They’re holding their own [in Sky Bet League Two].”
Due to positive Covid test in the Forest Green squad, the Stags were unable to play their scheduled fixture last week at Forest Green, a match the manager was disappointed not to see go ahead.
“We wanted to play. When you’re in the run [of form] that we’re in you want to keep playing.
“Everybody was disappointed when the game was called off.
“I think the vast majority in the country were [disappointed at games being postponed] but we were looking forward to going down there and continuing our good run.”
The manager hopes the Stags’ run of nine victories from ten matches will extend during the festive period.
The boss gave an update on whether some of the squad’s recent absentees would be available for the games.
“John-Joe O’Toole is back and available again after illness, so that’s a bonus for us.
“Everybody has trained this morning [Tuesday] and they’re clear on the lateral flow tests.
“Danny Johnson is not quite joining in in training. He’s doing a lot of one-to-one work at the moment.
“He’s [Johnson] doing ball work but he’s not quite up to joining in.
“Will Forrester is doing well, he’s back at Stoke having treatment and doing his rehab.
“His loan is actually up so we’re negotiating that, we’ll see how he does.”
Watch the gaffer’s interview in full later today at: mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.
Nigel Clough hopes in-form Stags can avoid further postponements
bbc.co.uk, Tuesday 21st December 2021
Mansfield manager Nigel Clough hopes his side can avoid more postponements because of Covid-19 as they look to continue their fine run of form.
The League Two club have won nine of the past 10 games in all competitions.
But Saturday's match against League Two leaders Forest Green Rovers had to be called off.
The English Football League has decided to continue playing matches "where it is safe to do so" despite the spread of the Omicron variant.
"I'm delighted we're continuing, providing everything is safe. I think that's the caveat they put with it," Clough said.
read more at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/59743666
"I've heard positive things from Hartlepool, they should be available to play the game (on Boxing Day), and we're doing everything we can to stay safe to get on the pitch for the three games over Christmas.
"You don't know what's going to happen in the next few weeks in terms of postponements, but you don't want to get too far behind. And from a purely selfish point of view, we don't want it to interrupt our momentum."
Mansfield beat Salford City 2-1 in their last match on 11 December to continue a run of success which followed 15 games earlier in the season without a victory.
"It's not ideal to go 15 days without a game and then all of a sudden you play three in seven days. We'll certainly be using the squad over those three games," Clough added.
"In (the last) 12 months we have had most things thrown at us, (but) I think society has as well, we're not in a bubble in football, but it has been difficult at times.
"We started this season with such optimism with crowds back in, a couple of wins, we should have made it three from the first three, and then we had that horrible six, eight weeks when we couldn't win a game to save our lives and every single thing seemed to be against us.
"We've come out of it in remarkable form, winning nine out of 10. We'd like to continue that and forget about the couple of months when things went against us."
Meanwhile, Mansfield's home league game against Swindon Town has been switched to Tuesday 11 January as the Stags will be playing Championship side Middlesbrough in the FA Cup on the preceding Saturday.
Nigel Clough says confidence is sky high at Mansfield Town ahead of Christmas period
chad.co.uk, By Mark Duffy, Tuesday 21st December 2021
Nigel Clough says confidence and optimism is in abundance at Mansfield Town as the Stags go into the busy Christmas period.
Nine league (and cup) wins out of ten have propelled Clough’s men up the Sky Bet League Two table to the point where they could find themselves at least in the play-off places as 2022 commences should results go their way.
And the Stags boss says a sign of the self-belief at the club was evident when news came through that last weekend’s trip to league leaders Forest Green Rovers had been postponed.
He said: “Sometimes when you get a postponement and you’ve got a few injuries or are in a bad run it can be a bit of a relief.
read more at https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/nigel-clough-says-confidence-is-sky-high-at-mansfield-town-ahead-of-christmas-period-3502586?fbclid=IwAR35BPjwKE5UlZH1XUHcfyl0ileSFlVj-pf-H5vDyLneQQd7dBG5RBhw2LQ
"But it says a lot about our players at the moment that when we found out the game was off there was real disappointment.
"The players can’t wait for the next game and we go into the festive period with a lot of confidence and optimism around the place.”
Hartlepool United provide Mansfield’s next challenge at One Call Stadium on Boxing Day, Graeme Lee’s side sat two points and four places behind Stags in 15th place.
Lee has overseen an unbeaten run since arriving at the club at the start of December, although they too had their last game postponed - the trip to Colchester last weekend.
Clough said: “Obviously we hope the game will go ahead and we’re all doing all we can to keep a very important Boxing Day fixture.
"The new manager has come in at Hartlepool and is settling in so he’ll have had some time to work with the team, apart from those isolating, and it should be a very interesting one for us.
"At home, we’re confident and feel we could take on anybody at the moment, so with Hartlepool and Middlesbrough in the FA Cup our next two home games, they’re ones to look forward to.”
Clough added he’s pleased that the EFL have decided to continue playing matches where possible despite the ongoing problems with Covid-19.
He said: “I’m delighted we’re continuing, providing everything’s safe.
"We’ve had positive reports from Hartlepool that they should be able to play the game and we’re doing all we can to stay safe to enable us to be on the pitch for the games over Christmas.”
I’ll keep working to improve - striker
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 21 Dec 2021
Mansfield Town’s in-form striker Rhys Oates insists he can still improve on aspects of his game in order to become a more complete forward.
The 27-year-old, who has scored four goals in his last six games, achieved promotion with Sunday’s opponents Hartlepool last season.
Speaking to at a news conference yesterday at RH Academy - the club’s training ground - Oates expressed a desire to extend his excellent form by working on attributes that he feels need developing.
“I know I’ve scored a few, I’ve got four in the last six, but I think I can still relax a bit more in font of goal at times,” he said.
“I’ll keep working on that and I’ll keep working on my hold-up play and lay-offs, things like that.
“[I will] Just keep working as hard as I can at everything really.”
When asked about his former employers, he said: “It meant everything to that club and to me on a personal note to help them get back to the Football League.
“I know they have a lot of the same players, I still keep in touch with a few of the lads there.
“I had to look at where I am in my career [though]. It [joining Mansfield] was a good move for me to make.”
The Pontefract-born forward’s fine goalscoring performances have coincided with the Stags’ recent run of nine victories from ten games.
“We started the season really well with two wins and a draw but then we had a bit of a turn [in fortune] and we didn’t get the results that we wanted.
“I felt we were still playing well but the results just weren’t going our way.
“We knew that as soon as we got that one win [at home to Tranmere] we’d go on a run and we haven’t really looked back since that win [by winning nine of the next ten].”
The Boxing Day clash will be the club’s first in over two weeks after positive Covid cases in Forest Green’s camp led to last week’s match being postponed.
“We were right up for that game. We know that on our day we can beat any team [in the division],” the forward said.
“They [Forest Green] are flying in the league this season, scoring bags full of goals but we’re probably the inform team in the league at the minute.
“We’re confident we can beat anyone. We just wanted to keep the momentum [going].”
Sunday’s game will be another chance for Oates to impress the Mansfield supporters. The forward has become a fans’ favourite in recent months and says he appreciates the backing given to the squad.
“They [the fans] have been amazing home and away. The Sunderland and the Doncaster games in the FA Cup [in particular].
“They travel in their numbers and at home you can hear them for the full game, especially recently.
“They’ve been right behind us [all year] and they’re the twelfth man.”
Watch the forward’s interview in full at: mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.
So Hartlepool had their game called off last weekend with four players testing positive for Covid.
Hartlepool manager Graeme Lee tells the Hartlepool youtube channel, 23 Dec 2021:
"We've been all clear apart from the lads who had the positive tests. We're hoping to get them back on the grass tomorrow."
"We're missing 4 lads on the training field (today) who could be key players for us."
Q: when you say 4 lads, is that through Covid?
"Yes. We've also had some niggly injuries as well but they're all back in. We'll have the full squad back in tomorrow."
Graeme Lee is set to welcome back four of his Hartlepool United players who tested positive for COVID-19 for Boxing Day trip to Mansfield Town
hartlepoolmail.co.uk, By Joe Ramage, Thursday 23rd December 2021
Graeme Lee has revealed he is set to welcome back four of his Hartlepool United players who had tested positive for COVID-19.
Pools saw their game with Colchester United postponed last weekend after a number of positive cases within the squad and Lee confirmed there were four players missing, all of whom are expected to make their return to training tomorrow in compliance with the COVID-19 protocols ahead of Boxing Day’s trip to Mansfield Town.
Pools have not played since their goalless draw with Scunthorpe United at the Suit Direct Stadium and while Lee has been able to spend time with his squad on the training ground he admits it has been a difficult period for the club.
“It’s been a tricky week, but all the protocols have come back in place now and we’re testing every day,” said Lee.
“So far we’ve been all clear this week apart from the lads who had the COVID positive tests over the weekend. We’re hoping to get them back on the grass tomorrow all being well. It will help with the squad going into Sunday.
“The lads will report in today and they’ll all do tests so you’re then just holding your breath hoping there’s no positive cases really.
“We keep getting updates from the EFL with protocols but so far so good as long as lads get no more positive cases.
“Hopefully the lads who’ve had the positive cases start bedding back into training.
“It’s been over the seven day period now, so if that’s the case and they haven’t had too many bad symptoms and they respond ok to the three day build up, then hopefully they’ll be able to be involved with us for Boxing day.
read more at https://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/sport/football/graeme-lee-is-set-to-welcome-back-four-of-his-hartlepool-united-players-who-tested-positive-for-covid-19-for-boxing-day-trip-to-mansfield-town-3505433
“But more importantly than anything, their health is the main thing over anything else.”
Like managers up and down the country across all levels of English football, Lee is experiencing an uncertain period with his decisions on the training ground and on a matchday being determined by the outcome of rigorous testing.
As it stands, Lee is confident Pools will be able to return to action to begin their festive programme against Mansfield, who themselves have had positives cases within their squad over the last fortnight.
But Lee admits the unpredictability of the situation is challenging to deal with.
“It’s just the uncertainty,” Lee told The Mail.
“You have to plan as normal and hopefully we get the fixtures to go ahead but it’s difficult for everyone, not just us.
“It’s people at home with their families and everyone is treading on eggshells a bit waiting for an announcement or waiting to see what’s going on, so it’s difficult.
“All we can do is plan as normal, keep preparing right and keep training the lads hard on the training field and if things all go ahead we’re well prepared.
“Unless there was a major breakout now I’m expecting it to go ahead.
“If these lads who come back in and respond well to their light training and we have no more positive cases then hopefully everything should go ahead.”
Graeme Lee gives injury update on strikers Luke Molyneux and Mark Cullen ahead of Hartlepool United's Boxing Day trip to face Mansfield Town
hartlepoolmail.co.uk, By Joe Ramage, Thursday 23rd December 2021
Hartlepool United may have been disrupted by a number of positive COVID-19 cases over the last week but the break in action has allowed Graeme Lee to get a number of injured players back into contention.
Pools’ League Two trip to Colchester United was postponed due to a number of COVID-19 cases within the squad which Lee has suggested totalled four players - all of whom are expected to return to training this week following COVID protocols ahead of Boxing Day’s trip to face Mansfield Town.
But away from COVID-19 Lee has had a number of walking wounded in recent weeks following four games in 10 days since his arrival as manager earlier this month.
And two of those carrying knocks have been striking duo Mark Cullen and Luke Molyneux with Lee admitting at least one of the frontmen was set to miss out on the trip to Colchester last weekend had the game gone ahead.
But the break in play since Pools’ last fixture, a goalless draw with Scunthorpe United at the Suit Direct Stadium, has allowed both Molyneux and Cullen to return to the grass this week.
“This week they have [been back training].
“I think one of them would have been missing at the weekend through it but they’re back now so hopefully, touching wood, everyone’s fit and firing,” Lee told The Mail.
“We’ve had a couple of lads with injuries who have come back in. I think we were missing three who would have missed the weekend so that’s good to get them all back on the field.
“It’s just now hopefully the lads who have been off ill can come back in and start bedding in tomorrow.”
read more at https://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/sport/football/graeme-lee-gives-injury-update-on-strikers-luke-molyneux-and-mark-cullen-ahead-of-hartlepool-uniteds-boxing-day-trip-to-face-mansfield-town-3505791
Not only has the break come at a time to allow those with niggles to heal, it has allowed both Lee and assistant manager Michael Nelson the opportunity to instil some more of their ideas and philosophies on the squad away from the game-to-game routine.
And with a busy schedule over the Christmas period that will see Pools face five games over a two week period, should all games go ahead, this time on the training ground has been vital for Lee.
“More time on the grass means we can start implementing a few more things which is great.
“Obviously the uncertainty with what’s going on at the club has been a bit difficult but managing on the grass has been good and the stuff we’re trying to put in place has been good and the lads are responding really well.
“But we’re missing four lads on the training field who could be key players for us as well. It’s good what we’re getting but ideally with a full squad would be better.
“There’s been more than four as we’ve had a few niggly injuries but they’re all hopefully back in and we’ll have the full squad back in tomorrow which is good.
“Everyday since I’ve come in, the lads have trained with intensity and that intensity is exactly what we’re looking for.”
Latest | December 2021