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CLOUGH PREVIEWS FA CUP, LATEST ON OTOOLE, & COVID
8th January 2022 0:18



Nigel Clough told iFollow Stags, Tuesday 4th January 2022:

"We've had a couple more Covid cases this week. So they will be missing for Saturday. I don't think there are many left who have not had it now.

"Rochdale called the game off on Saturday. We would have been struggling as well to get a team out.

"We've organised a friendly for this (Tuesday) morning against Derby County under-23s. People will play varying amounts of time depending on how they feel. (*)

"Covid affects everybody differently. Some (of our players) have really struggled with it, and some have had no symptoms at all and have come straight back into training with no reactions. So we're just going to monitor them and see how they feel."

“Danny (Johnson) joined in training for the first time yesterday. If he’s had no reaction, then he might play 20 minutes at the end (of the Derby U23 friendly) and we'll start building him up from there.”

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later update, Thur 6 Jan:
Striker Danny Johnson played in a 3-2 victory against Derby County’s under-23s on Tuesday and will continue to be assessed.
Midfielder Harry Charsley completed 90 minutes in the game.
from https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2022/january/match-preview-for-mansfield-town-vs-middlesbrough-on-08-jan-22/

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Mansfield Town still hopeful they can persuade John-Joe O’Toole to stay despite better offers from elsewhere
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 4th January 2022

Mansfield Town are still hopeful they can persuade John-Joe O'Toole to stay with the club, but admit he does have better offers on the table.

O'Toole was signed as a free agent on a short term deal but has impressed both in defence and midfield which has inevitably alerted bigger clubs.

“Negotiations are ongoing but it's going to have to come to a head sooner or later,” said manager Nigel Clough.

“John-Joe has got better offers from elsewhere - and from a higher division. So we are battling against that at the moment.

“We are a bit unlucky that he has done so well. That has attracted other teams because of the way he has played.

read more at https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town-still-hopeful-they-can-persuade-john-joe-otoole-to-stay-despite-better-offers-from-elsewhere-3514261

“But we are still hopeful we can manage to persuade him to stay.”

He continued: “We are trying everything we can to persuade him to stay, and we are reminding him on an almost daily basis that we were the ones who gave him an opportunity when he couldn't get a club back in the Football League.

“It depends on the difference between the offers and the leagues and so on.

“But the one thing he has done here is he has enjoyed it and we hope that will be a big tick in our favour when he makes his decision.”

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John-Joe O'Toole: Mansfield Town fighting to keep midfielder, says Nigel Clough
bbc.co.uk, Tuesday 4th January 2022

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough says talks over a new deal with soon-to-be out-of-contract midfielder John-Joe O'Toole are reaching a critical point.

The ex-Watford and Northampton veteran, 33, left Burton last summer and has scored twice in 10 games since signing a short-term Mansfield deal in October.

That deal expires this month and Clough confirmed O'Toole has other offers.

"Negotiations are ongoing but they have to come to a head sooner or later," Clough told BBC Radio Nottingham.

"He has got better offers from elsewhere and from a higher division, so we are battling against that at the moment."

read more at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/59873899

O'Toole's arrival at the One Call Stadium has coincided with a remarkable upturn in form for the League Two side.

Having previously been on a 14-match winless run in all competitions, Mansfield have won nine of their 10 games since O'Toole's debut, climbing from relegation candidates to promotion hopefuls in ninth place.

"We are a bit unlucky that he's done so well because that has attracted other teams, the way he has played - but we are still hopeful we will manage to persuade him to stay," added Clough.

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John-Joe O’Toole at MTFC this season

with him not in the side: Played 16 Points 17
with him starting: Played 6 Points 15 (plus 2 wins out of 2 in FA Cup)

stats by Martin

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Corey O’Keeffe looks set to leave Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 4th January 2022

It looks unlikely Irish defender Corey O'Keefe will return to Mansfield Town as clubs begin to circle for his signature.

The 23-year-old made just 18 appearances last season before falling out of favour, though has been impressing out on loan at League Two rivals Rochdale this season.

“We have had a couple of enquires about Corey both from Rochdale and other clubs as well,” said manager Nigel Clough.

“I think he was brought in as a wing back here when the team were playing three centre halves.

“We have played it a little bit but not too much. But that's his best position and he's done well there.

read more at https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/corey-okeeffe-looks-set-to-leave-mansfield-town-3514310?fbclid=IwAR1OmuV5O9wsvL1LazD9yMMnyAqrMn3CtpmoG7CVsPjsafBDG4eXffhNp_E

“He has attracted interest and if we're not going to play the three centre halves then Corey may well move on. He is a young lad who wants to play football.”

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Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough in no rush in first week of transfer window
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 4th January 2022

A few days into the January transfer window, Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough said he is happy with his squad but may still freshen things up with a new face or two.

He said he does have targets but was in no rush to complete the business which could also hinge on any new injuries.

“We are in a position where we are having most players coming back fit at the moment - or they will be over the next week or two.

“We have another three or four weeks left of the window. We do have targets but we will just have to see how it goes,” he explained.

read more at https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town-manager-nigel-clough-in-no-rush-in-first-week-of-transfer-window-3514282?fbclid=IwAR0q7rLoNp5WOSxjP7_AZRA35t80_qk515SE6jRtG6VMSYqd2v7-HdaeYZc

“We might pick injuries up and that might change priorities.

“We have the maximum five loans at the moment so if we brought in another we'd have to leave one of those out. So there are a lot of things up in the air at the moment.

“There is not going to be a massive amount of players coming in, we don't think - maybe one or two.

“We have a nice, settled squad. We could only name four outfield subs on Boxing Day purely down to the Covid and the few injuries we'd picked up.

“But I think when we are back to nearly a fully fit squad it's one we are quite happy with.

“Ideally you'd like to add one or two new faces just to give everybody a lift.

“But, that is important when you are not winning games and having won 10 out of 11, it might not be necessary to give everyone a lift. But a new face or two wouldn't do any harm.”

He added: “Now we are getting players fit and the squad is taking shape we do want to get some of the younger players out on loan playing some football.”

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Eager Mansfield Town champing at the bit for action after two postponements
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

Mansfield Town can't wait to get back into action on Saturday after two successive postponements over the last week.

Covid cases, which will rule out another two unnamed players for Saturday, and injury saw them have to postpone last Wednesday's trip to Harrogate and then virus-ravaged Rochdale called off last Saturday's clash.

“After the euphoria of the three points on Boxing Day it's been a bit of a comedown not to have a game,” said Stags boss Nigel Clough as they prepared to take on Middlesbrough in the FA Cup third round.

“We only had 10 or 12 training at the end of last week. Now the majority of the squad are back in, everyone is looking forward to Saturday.

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/eager-mansfield-town-champing-at-the-bit-for-action-after-two-postponements-3516813

“I think the fact that we haven't played since Boxing Day heightens it a bit.

“As a footballer, when you don't play football you should be champing at the bit for the next game.”

He added “Harry Charsley, George Lapslie and Stephen Quinn are all back in training, which is good.

“We have organised a friendly at Derby U23s where people will play varying amounts of time depending on how they feel.

“That's why we've arranged it - to have a gauge of what they can do and what stage they are at.

“I think the illness affects everyone differently. Some have really struggled with it but most have come straight back into training with no reaction. We have to monitor them.

“Some of them have had breathing problems. We start the training session and the physio, Tom, is very keen on monitoring the players and seeing if any are struggling after 15-20 minutes.

“We're stopping the session and asking the lads coming back are you feeling okay? Can you do a bit more? Some are really feeling the breathing problems, so we have to be very careful with it.”

Stags are taking no chances with training.

“We have changed the rules again back to where we were a few months ago and we are staying outside as much as possible,” he said.

“The players are not mixing indoors. We're having food outside and trying to do as much as we can outside.

“We've cut the meetings down. When you have 22-24 people in a room indoors, even with the windows open, it poses a risk.”

Clough will have to leave it late to decide on a side to face Boro as Covid continues to cause issues.

“Players are coming back at various stages this week and at different levels of fitness in terms of how they're feeling and how much they can do. We will just have to see how it goes for the rest of the week,” he said.

“We have had a couple more Covid cases already this week so they will be missing for Saturday. I don't think there are too many left who've not had it now.

“Rochdale called the game off on Saturday but I think we would have been struggling to get a team out as well.

“It's not been ideal. We played Salford on the 11th and then Hartlepool on Boxing Day. The next game is hopefully going to be on the 8th so it's one in about in four weeks.

“You have got to fit them in somewhere and January and February are already looking quite busy.

“So, while I don't necessarily agree with it, I think it's been sensible to abolish replays in the third and fourth round of the FA Cup so we won't be faced with that extra game.

“But there are going to be a few games to fit in - and that's without postponements with the weather or further ones due to Covid or injury.”

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Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough relishing being underdogs as Stags aim for FA Cup giantkilling against Middlesbrough
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough said he relished being underdogs as Stags prepared to take on Championship high-fliers Middlesbrough in the FA Cup third round at the One Call Stadium on Saturday (12.15pm).

Having already knocked out two League One sides away from home and won 10 of their last 11 games, Stags go into the tie in confident mood, though Clough knows how hard it will be against a side with Premier League ambitions under new boss Chris Wilder.

“We thrive on being the underdog and have done over the years - and we've caused some upsets,” said Clough.

“There's no greater feeling for a club, supporters and everybody, than causing an upset.

“We've already caused two in the earlier rounds and we will be looking to make it a third.

“On Boxing Day the atmosphere was brilliant with Hartlepool's big travelling support and when you come back from 2-0 down the place is rocking when you get that equaliser and third goal. We will try to create something similar to that.”

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town-boss-nigel-clough-relishing-being-underdogs-as-stags-aim-for-fa-cup-giantkilling-against-middlesbrough-3516827

Boro are in hot form, but Clough insisted: “We think it's a good draw.

“I know Chris Wilder's priority will be the league and since he's gone in there he's had an immediate impact and they're in the play-off places.

“So they have a realistic chance of getting promoted. And I think the way the top two or three are faltering I don't think you would rule out automatic at this stage.

“Straight away, to get them into those play-off spots has lifted everyone around Middlesbrough. ”

For that reason and possible lingering Covid issues, Clough expects changes to the Boro side.

“I think they have had more Covid cases than us with staff and players last week, though some of them will be available again now,” he said.

“We will have access to all the video we need but the difficulty with the FA Cup is that you're never quite sure what team they are going to play.

“I know Middlesbrough had to call off the game last week because of injury and illness. So you never know what personnel will be out there.

“Chris has always played a certain formation. So we can look at that but whenever we play a team from a higher league it's almost impossible to guess which XI they're going to put out.”

Clough said he always relishes a cup run.

“Promotion is the priority but I always think you've got room for a cup run within that,” he said.

“Not having replays helps and we were knocked out of the first round of the League Cup and didn't progress in the EFL Trophy.

“So you have room for one good cup run and I hope it's now in the FA Cup.”

Having seen off Sunderland, Clough now faces another one of dad Brian's former clubs.

“My mum and dad's family are all from up there,” he said.

“Unfortunately not too many of them are still around now but we still have some cousins and relatives up there.

“The FA Cup always seems to have little connections somewhere when you get draws.

“On a personal level, to get Sunderland two years running and then Middlesbrough in the third round is quite incredible.”

Clough remains a huge fan of the competition.

“We tell the players it is special and I think most of them understand how important the competition is - you could see that in our performances at Sunderland and Doncaster,” he said.

“To get into the third round in consecutive years for the first time in 40 years for the club show show much it means and how we went about our business in the two earlier rounds.

“We don't want to to be a team that dismisses any competition.

“The FA Cup is the biggest cup competition we play in.

“When you win a cup match it's slightly different as you don't know who you're going to get in the next round.

“But it will be tough enough just to get into the next round.”

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Stags’ squad ‘looking forward’ to Boro cup test - manager
mansfieldtown.net

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough says his squad are ‘looking forward’ to the challenge of facing second tier Middlesbrough in the Emirates FA Cup third round this Saturday (12.15pm).

The Stags battled to impressive victories in the previous two rounds against higher opposition at League One sides Sunderland and Doncaster.

Speaking at a news conference at One Call Stadium, the boss discussed his players’ excitement at the possibility of causing another potential cup shock.

https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2022/january/stags-squad-looking-forward-to-boro-cup-test--manager/

“The majority of them [the squad] are back in and everybody is looking forward to it,” he said.

“I think the fact we haven’t played since Boxing Day heightens it [the excitement to play the fixture] a little bit.

“As a footballer, when you don’t play you should be champing at the bit for the next game.

“We think it’s a good draw. We know that Chris’ [Wilder] priorities will certainly be the league, since he’s gone in there, he’s had an impact immediately.

“They’re [Middlesbrough] in the play-off places so they have a realistic chance of getting promoted [to the Premier League].”

The fixture will be Mansfield’s first since an incredible 3-2 comeback victory at home to Hartlepool on Boxing Day - a game in which multiple Stags’ players were missing due to Covid.

“They’re coming back at various stages this week and at different levels of fitness.

“We’ve had a couple more cases already this week, so they’ll be missing for Saturday.

“I don’t think it [preparation for matches with games being postponed frequently due to positive Covid cases] has been ideal.

“We played Salford on the 11th [December] and then we played Boxing Day, the next game hopefully is going to be the 8th [of January].

“January and February are looking quite busy.”

The boss is hopeful that absentees from the Hartlepool game; George Lapslie, Stephen Quinn and Harry Charsley could all return to face Boro.

Meanwhile, defender John-Joe O’Toole’s contract is set to expire and the manager gave an update on the likelihood of the 33-year-old extending his deal further.

“Negotiations are ongoing,” said the boss.

“He has got better offers from elsewhere and a higher division so we’re battling against that at the moment.

“We’re a bit unlucky that he’s done so well because that’s attracted other teams.

“But, we’re still hopeful that we will manage to persuade him to stay.”

The weekend’s fixture is another opportunity for the boss to mastermind a cup shock, something he has a successful track record of accomplishing.

“We thrive on being the underdog and have done over the years.

“There’s no greater feeling for the supporters and the club when you do cause an upset.

“We’ve already caused two [upsets] in the earlier rounds, it would be lovely to make it a third one.”

Watch the manager’s interview in full now at: mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.

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Mansfield Town midfielder George Maris believes Mansfield Town can pull off third FA Cup shock against Championship side Middlesbrough
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

Mansfield Town midfielder George Maris believes that Mansfield Town can take Saturday's FA Cup third round tie to Championship Middlesbrough and aim for a third shock in a row.

Stags have already disposed of League One clubs Sunderland and Doncaster Rovers and now have Chris Wilder's in-form Boro in their giantkilling sights.

“We are underdogs, but we can't go into it with that mindset,” he said.

“We have to go into it like we did against Sunderland and Doncaster and hopefully produce another shock and see what happens.

read more at https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town-midfielder-george-maris-believes-mansfield-town-can-pull-off-third-fa-cup-shock-against-championship-side-middlesbrough-3515357

“Against Sunderland and Doncaster we always felt like we could win and I feel like it's the same again.

“I don't think we were ever out-played in those games. We went there and deserved to win.

“We were holding on a bit at Sunderland, but we were good and more than a match for both those sides.

“Obviously this is a step up this time and it's a Championship club who are going well. We know it will be harder than the previous two games.

“But we're at home so hopefully that can count for something and we can get the fans behind us.

“It's been unbelievable all season - the crowd have been behind us regardless of the results and they have always been supportive of us. “They have been loud and, to be fair, that's probably why our home form has been as good as it is at the minute.”

Stags have won 10 of their last 11 games and Maris said: “On the back of our results it is a good time to play them and we have shown we can cause an upset.

“Hopefully we can play our stuff and see what we can do.

“It is just another game, but there is that extra excitement as we know what the third round is and what it could do for this club.

“We will prepare for it like we prepare for all the league games - focus on us and hopefully that will stand us in good stead to get the job done.

“It's more about excitement than nerves for a cup game like this. We've got nothing to lose against a Championship side.

“We will just go out there and do our best - it's worked in the last two rounds so hopefully we can do it again.”

Maris is hoping this can become his best ever season in the FA Cup.

“I have probably got to the third round once before but I don't think I've ever got past it, so from a personal point that would be nice to do and hopefully get a big draw away from home or a big one here,” he said.

“You want to play against the best - it would be a tough day but it would be an enjoyable experience for the players and the fans.”

Maris said the postponement of both games last week was disappointing as the Stags have great momentum at the moment, helped on by their battling win against Hartlepool on Boxing Day.

“Christmas was one of the best ones football-wise,” he said.

“The gaffer said it's always a better Boxing Day if you win, so we enjoyed Christmas after such a good result.

“But we then had more time off than I would probably like to really. I do like the games coming thick and fast over the Christmas period, especially when you're on this run. You want to keep playing.

“So it was a disruption. But hopefully we've rested up some bodies and we're good to go.”

He added: “We are in a good run of form and starting to get players back to full fitness.

“It's helping as we have a big squad to choose from and competition for places now. We are all confident and hopefully we can produce another shock on Saturday.

“We have had our Covid cases and a few players out, but the majority of them are back now and we are looking good on the injury front as well.

“There is an excitement in the dressing room at the moment. That comes with the results - we are all together and happy. That shows on the pitch.

“Even at 2-0 down against Hartlepool we all knew we'd get back into the game at some point.”

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Midfielder: Stags excited for cup clash
mansfieldtown.net

Mansfield Town midfielder George Maris says he and his Stags teammates are ‘excited’ at the prospect of causing another FA Cup upset as they hope to overcome in-form Middlesbrough at One Call Stadium this Saturday.

The 25-year-old says that there is ‘an excited feeling around the dressing room’ because the Stags have already ‘shown that they can cause an upset’ in the competition.

The amber and blue have already pulled off two FA Cup scalps this season, outmuscling Sky Bet League One sides Sunderland and Doncaster Rovers.

https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2022/january/midfielder-stags-excited-for-cup-clash/

But Maris admits this will be an even sterner test as Stags come up against a Middlesbrough side sitting in seventh position in the Championship table.

“We’ve shown that we can cause an upset already. We’ve beaten two League One teams and hopefully now we can go and beat a Championship side,” he said.

“We’re in a good run of form and [we’re] starting to get players back to full fitness. I think it’s healthy because we’ve got good competition for places now. We’ve had a few [Covid] cases but the majority of those are back now.

“We’re all confident and hopefully we can [make] another shock on Saturday.”

The 25-year-old spoke of the atmosphere in the dressing room ahead of the cup tie.

“[The feeling around the squad] is more of excitement rather than nerves,” said Maris.

“We’ve got nothing to lose. We’ll go out there and do our best, it’s worked in the last two rounds.

“There’s an excitement around the dressing room at the minute.

“We’re going out there [into matches] and we’re all together and happy and that shows on the pitch.

“[When we were] 2-0 down against Hartlepool we looked around and I think we all knew that we’d get back into the game. There’s a good togetherness at the minute and that’s obviously come from the results that we’ve had.”

To fuel yet another FA Cup shock, the former Cambridge man is hoping for a rallying atmosphere inside the One Call Stadium on matchday.

“[The atmosphere against Hartlepool was] unbelievable and it has been all season.

“The crowd have been without us regardless of the results [this season]. They’re always supportive of us and they’ve been loud. That’s probably why our home form is as good as it is at the minute.

“We know what the third round is and what it could do for this club. We’ll go out there and prepare like we do for all the league games.”

Watch the midfielder’s interview in full at: mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.

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