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9th August 2022 17:11

We can’t wait to be back home - boss
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 2nd August 2022

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough has expressed excitement at being back at One Call Stadium this Saturday and receive the ‘boost’ of being in front of the Stags’ home support.

The gaffer’s squad take on Tranmere Rovers in the club’s first home outing of the 2022/23 season.

Since October 2021, Mansfield have lost just once in the league at One Call Stadium and the boss hopes the impressive run can continue this term.


Speaking to the local media today at RH Academy, Nigel said: “I hope it will be the same [success at home] this season [as last campaign] with even more support behind us.

“I wish we could play every game at home.

“We like playing at home.

“When we run out in front of our supporters it lifts us, it boosts us [and] it gets us on the front foot.

“Opposition sides will be saying ‘let’s keep it [the crowd] quiet’.

“Once we get on the front foot, get a goal, create a chance - anything - then the crowd will be right behind us.

“It is [One Call Stadium] one of those grounds [where] it does feel like there’s a lot more in there.

“It is a great atmosphere.”

With a record number of season tickets achieved in modern times ahead of the new season, the manager says his squad have an extra ‘responsibility’ given the immense sales figures and the current economic climate.

“[It’s] More of a responsibility on us to make sure we entertain them [the fans] for spending their hard-earned money on season tickets,” he said.

“The owners have always been conscious on that side of it.

“Certainly, football at the top level these days isn’t affordable to a lot of people.”

When asked who might not be involved for the Stags this weekend, the boss said: “I don’t think James Perch will be quite right for this weekend.

“Kieran Wallace is still out [and] obviously Jason Law is still out so no changes there.

“Hawks [Oli Hawkins] will be available after his suspension which is good news.

“Oatesy [Rhys Oates] rolled his ankle a little bit so he won’t train in the early part of this week, but he should be alright for the weekend.”

The Stags’ chief outlined the strengths of this Saturday’s opponents, Tranmere.

“They’re [Tranmere] a slightly different side than we saw last season,” he said.

“There’s still one of our ex-players upfront who’ll be a major threat in Kane Hemmings.

“Our supporters will know all about him.

“I think the front two are as dangerous as anybody [in League Two].”

The manager also provided the latest update on potential transfer activity.

“We’re reasonably close with bringing a permanent signing in,” said the gaffer.

“[There’s] Just a stumbling block that we’ve hit.

“[We’re] Hoping to resolve that.

“It might get resolved, it might not.

“[He’s] Just a player that we’ve had our eye on for a while. We’re down the road with negotiations but just a little stumbling block in the way now.”


Mansfield Town transfer deal hits ‘stumbling block’
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 2nd August 2022

Mansfield Town's hopes of signing their main current transfer target have hit a 'stumbling block'

But, with a month of the summer window still to go, manager Nigel Clough knows he can switch his search elsewhere if the deal is deemed dead in the water.

“We are reasonably close with one, but we've hit a stumbling block,” he said.

“We can't seem to get over that at the moment, but it is a permanent signing.


“It might get resolved and it might not - we are still hopeful we might be able to get there. Everything is agreed with the player, but we're still working on that one.

“It's a player we have had our eye on for a while and we are down the road with negotiations.

“David Sharpe (chief executive) is working very hard with the owners on that one, so we are still hoping we might get it over the line. If not we will look elsewhere.”

Clough said this will be the final piece of the jigsaw unless a player leaves or short term injuries become longer term.

“It will just be one player initially, then we will see how Kieran Wallace settles down,” he said.

“He had an injection in his knee a couple of weeks ago, so he is building it back up in the gym and starts running on his own next week.

“As long as the reaction is fine we will stick with that. We said we'd go with 19 outfield.

“We've got 18 at the moment with Cooper and Gale on top who will go out on loan once everyone is fit.

“James Perch should be back in a week or two if everything goes well with him.

“Everything is quiet at the moment in terms of outgoings. If somebody goes out we would replace them, but that's the only way we'd bring anyone else in.”

Oli Hawkins is available again this weekend after suspension and will play an hour in a training game against Sheffield Wednesday U23s today.

All the weekend substitutes are likely to have a run out and most of the first team will also get 45 minutes.

However, striker Rhys Oates rolled an ankle in the opening day defeat at Salford City and will sit out training to make sure he is okay for Saturday's visit of Tranmere Rovers.


Clough clarified that "everything's gone quiet" in terms of outgoings.
“Everything is quiet at the moment in terms of outgoings. If somebody goes out we would replace them, but that's the only way we'd bring anyone else in.”


Nigel Clough tells Notts TV, Wed 3 Aug 2022:
"Ideally we'd like another forward player.
"The owners put in a couple of substantial bids for strikers. We weren't successful."
"I think we're getting pretty close with bringing another player in on a permanent."


Baptism of fire for Nottingham Forest youngsters as they are thrown in at the deep end by Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 2nd August 2022

Nigel Clough said being thrown in at the deep end at Salford on Saturday had been a baptism of fire for Mansfield Town's two young Nottingham Forest loanees.

With players missing, Clough elected to give striker Will Swan and defender Riley Harbottle their debuts in the 2-0 defeat and said: “I felt a bit sorry for the two young Forest lads as it was a tough baptism for them.

“You bring them in and, ideally, you don't really anticipate them starting the first game of the season.

“You want to gradually get them used to League Two, not throw them in at the deep end.


“So it was tough for them in a poor team performance - that's what made it tough for them.”

He added: “I though Will ran around and worked hard and Riley had a lot of the ball at the back - he is probably not used to that side of it where we are dependent on him for the distribution to get us going.

“He has come in and done very well defensively for us, but with Hawks (Oli Hawkins) being out he's found himself in the middle.

“It was a tough one for them but they will be so much better for it. That's what they are here for. Young players are not the finished article - that is why they are out with us.

“Last season we had a very experienced side with not so many youngsters in, which I think is one of the reasons why we performed so well.

“But I think they will both be very good for us over the next nine months.

“Any game time they have we will get the benefit. It's very different to the U21 and U23 football they're used to.”


Mansfield Town so happy to be back home for visit of Tranmere Rovers
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 2nd August 2022

After a record-breaking home campaign last season, Mansfield Town can't wait to return to the One Call Stadium this Saturday for their first home game against Tranmere Rovers.

Stags lost their opener 2-0 at Salford City last week but boss Nigel Clough says his players can't wait to be back out in front of their growing home support with a club record of almost 4,500 season tickets having been sold.

“The players feel very comfortable playing at home and that's what we're trying to replicate away from home as much as we can,” he said.

“The crowd play such a significant part at home. They really get behind us and urge us forward and it's a massive boost. They get us on the front foot.


“I wish we could play every game at home - if we did we'd win the league. But you can't do that.

“It is one of those grounds, even though it only has three sides, it does feel there's a lot more in there than there is.

“Five or six thousand in the One Call really does feel like there is double that amount with the noise they make and a lot of the lads remark on it. It's a great atmosphere.

“It puts even more responsibility on us to entertain them for spending their hard-earned money on season tickets.”

He added: “You always look at who you're playing in your first home game when the fixture list comes out and, ideally, you always want to be going into it with a point or three. But we didn't get that.

“But it will be a good game against Tranmere

“Tranmere are difficult to judge while they're just settling down. But they have lost a couple of players.

“One of our ex-players up front, Kane Hemmings, will be a major threat. Supporters will know all about him, and I think their front two are as dangerous as anybody.

“They are a good, solid, big club with a good manager and again they will be there or thereabouts this season. They just missed out last year but they will certainly be challenging again.”

Clough said there were some positives to take out of the Salford defeat into the weekend.

“It was fine margins and we had some very good situations we didn't make the most of,” he said.

“We had 60-odd per cent of possession, more shots than them, more corners than them.

“So if that was us at our worst and we can still do that away from home then that's the only bright spot to come out of it.

“We know we can do so much better. But even when we're off the pace, as we were, we still have the ability to control the game away from home as we did in the second half.

“I think that was our eighth loss since October so we've not done too badly over the last 10 months. We don't want that feeling too often. It was a wake up call.

“What hits you most is when you don't see it coming - nobody did - when we'd had a good three weeks pre-season. We fell below our standards and that was the surprising thing.

“If we play like we did in pre-season and how we played last season we are a force to be reckoned with. We are a very good team when we do that.”

James Perch and Kieran Wallace miss out with injury on Saturday but Stags will welcome back Oli Hawkins from a one game ban.


Hawkins excited to return
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 2nd August 2022

Mansfield Town defender Oli Hawkins says he’s ‘excited‘ for this Saturday as he aims for a place in the starting line up when Stags take on Tranmere Rovers in the first home match of the 2022/23 campaign.

The 30-year-old was suspended for the weekend’s 2-0 loss at Salford but is in contention to return against Rovers.

After a short break following the end of last season, the versatile performer says he’s ready to ‘get going again’ ahead of the encounter on home soil.


Speaking to the local media in a news conference at RH Academy yesterday, Hawkins said: “It was a quick turnover with time off and then back into pre-season with games [now] coming thick and fast.

“I’m excited to be back here with the boys, the manager, and to get going again.

“I feel like we’ll go into this season a little bit more experienced on certain things we didn’t do very well last season and remember how to cope with certain games.”

The London-born powerhouse added that he and his Stags’ teammates are ‘raring to go’ for the first match at One Call Stadium of the new season.

“I actually preferred it [pre-season] being shorter and getting straight back into it,” he said.

“I think it might take a couple more games to really get going, but we’re all just raring to go for Saturday’s home game.

“I think the season starts on Saturday for us.”

Mansfield have achieved a modern-day record of over 4,450 season tickets sold ahead of the new campaign. The former Portsmouth man is eager to return to a packed home stadium.

“I feel like we’ve just got to do the same [as last season at home] and have the amazing crowd with us on our shoulders,” said Hawkins.

“For us, we just need to keep trying to play football and keep the ball, keep attacking and try to score early goals like we did [last season].

“We’re very strong at home.”

Mansfield’s number 12 was dismissed in the 2021/22 Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final after recording two first-half bookings, but Hawkins is determined to put that behind him in his first competitive match since the Wembley red card.

“For me on a personal note, after the final, the first few days were a bit tough,” said the defender.

“[With] What I did and get sent off, it was a difficult time for me.

“I’ve tried to get over it as quick as I can and focus on this season knowing that we can definitely do the same again but this time not go to the play-offs and get automatic promotion.

“I’m just trying to stay injury-free, available [and] work on certain mistakes.”

Originally a striker by trade, Hawkins has been used as the middle central defender in a back three in pre-season and believes the system can bring the Stags success.

“If I’m playing at the back [I need to] try and not get yellow cards as much and [look to] make it really productive season [for Mansfield].

“If we can take that same momentum we had at the start of the year and keep trying to win games at home and potentially be better away from home [we’ll have a successful campaign].

“It’s a different position for me, mainly in the middle, but it’s a formation I think can work for us.

“We’ve got the players in the squad to full different positions, and it’ll be a big season.

“You get more time on the ball [in a back three] when you’re trying to pass out.

“It’s definitely a formation we can play.”

When asked if he sees himself operating in defence for most of the 2022/23 campaign, Hawkins said: “I think so, but you never know in the gaffer’s team.

“You can be playing anywhere just because he likes the versatility.

“If I’m called upon upfront or in any other position, I’ll be ready to play.”


Mansfield Town’s Oli Hawkins on red card heartbreak at Wembley - ‘it has been tough but you have to get over it’
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 2nd August 2022

Mansfield Town's Oli Hawkins has spoken for the first time about his red card in last season's play-off final at Wembley as Stags lost 3-0 to Port Vale.

Hawkins was dismissed for a second bookable offence which saw him suspended at Salford on Saturday.

“After the final, the first few days were a bit tough for myself. Getting sent off, it was a difficult time for me,” he said.

“But I have tried to get over it as quickly as I can and focus on this season.


“You can't linger on it forever and have to realise the good times we have had and try to forget about it. It was a bad day but there are plenty more ups on the horizon.

“It was probably the worst moment of my career - I had never properly been sent off before. So it was really hard to take, especially as I was a local boy from that area and had been to Wembley and scored a winning penalty before.

“So from that to getting sent off in front of your family and tons of your friends was a really difficult time.

“It was an experience I'd never had before and I just had to get over it and realise there are worst things in life.

“If I am totally honest I forget I'd been yellow carded when I made that second tackle as the first one for me was so light.

“All I was doing (for the first booking) was what I would normally do when you are getting grappled. I tried to push him away and he went down and made a meal of it.

“That was how my season went. Every first tackle I made last season I got yellow carded and it just happened to happen again in the final - my first altercation was a yellow card, not a warning.”

He continued: “Players, staff, friends and family and the majority of fans I saw online were supportive. It happens and unfortunately it happened to me.

“It's not a good feeling and we didn't go on to win the game.

“Maybe if I had stayed on the pitch the result might have been different, though we were 2-0 down. You never know. It was a horrible feeling - but you have to get over it.”

Hawkins was signed as a striker but, with his height, has proved useful at the back too but says he knows he still needs to learn more about the art of defending.

“I need to work on not getting yellow carded as much,” he said.

“It's an experience for me playing at the back. I feel it's a position you need to have played over the years and really studied it and master it.

“Obviously I haven't mastered tackling, so this season I have to learn to make tackles that are less bookable.”

His suspension served, Hawkins is now desperate to get going this weekend.

“I am really excited to be back having, unfortunately, missed the first game at Salford with suspension,” he said.

“It's been a short period off and a relatively quick turnover but I am ready to go. I prefer it being shorter and getting straight back into it.

“It's going to be a very big season for us, especially at home with the big crowd numbers we have gathered.

“I am really excited to see them again and hopefully keep our home form from last year on into this one.

“Last season ended in disappointment, but if we can take that same momentum we had since the start of the year, keep trying to win games at home, and potentially be better away from home, our aim is automatic promotion.”

With Stags now going with a back three, Hawkins is again being tried in a new position in the centre of the three.

“It's a different position for me again in the middle but it's one I feel can work for us. It will need a few games but I think we have the players all round the squad capable of filling different positions,” he said.

“In the middle you get more time on the ball when you're trying to pass out and, if the opposition only have one up front, sometimes you are not marking anyone. So it's a bit more of a mental challenge having three at the back.”

He added: “It's difficult starting away from home, so the season starts on Saturday for us.

“We have an amazing crowd with us on our shoulders and we need to try to play football, keep the ball, keep attacking and try to score early goals like we did.

“I never know where I will start a game but I am happy to play wherever I am asked and will try my hardest.

“I will probably start mainly at the back but, who knows? Certain games I may need to be called on up front.

“I am focusing on playing at the back, though you do miss that feeling of scoring when you're up front. I am just happy to play games.

“I feel like we are going into the season a bit more experienced from last season's lows and we can cope with certain games and how to overcome situations.

“We have to keep our heads up and never give up. I can't see another 10-game losing streak happening.

“And if I am playing the majority of the season at the back I am working on not getting yellow cards as much.”