CLOUGH & QUINN PREVIEW NORTHAMPTON GAME
Boss eager to build momentum with ‘special game’ approaching
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 20 Dec 2022
Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough expects a ‘special’ Boxing Day contest against promotion rivals Northampton Town as Stags look to build on four points from the previous two matches in Sky Bet League Two.
The boss’ side were dramatic winners at home to Colchester before a well-fought point at Stevenage earlier this month provided back-to-back positive displays with Saturday’s scheduled match at home to Grimsby postponed due to a frozen pitch.
The club sit fifth currently in Sky Bet League Two and welcome the Cobblers to One Call Stadium for the first time since winning in both legs during last campaign’s 2021-22 play-off semi-finals.
Speaking to iFollow Stags in a news conference this afternoon, Nigel said: “We haven’t played for two weeks.
“That’s not ideal at this stage [of the season] with three [games] in seven days coming up and then [a period of] over two weeks without a game prior to that.
“We were just building up a bit of momentum we thought with the four points we got in the previous two games, and we desperately wanted to play against Grimsby.
“Boxing Day is always a big game. A special game.
“Supporters come out [in their numbers] and everybody looks forward to that particular fixture, especially with it being Northampton [as the opposition].
“I think it will have a little bit of something extra and we can’t underestimate their [the Cobblers’] desire to get a little bit of revenge for what happened in the play-offs.”
The gaffer’s side have recorded victories in the previous three meetings between the two clubs.
“It’s not bad blood or anything like that. It’s just a healthy, professional wish to turn the tables on the team that knocked you out the play-offs,” said the boss.
“We get on well with them [off the pitch]. They’ve got Jon Brady and Colin Calderwood, a nice fella, so we all get on well and had a bit of time [together] in Scotland [during pre-season].
“They’ve got Ben Fox playing for them who played for us at Burton.
“The way they’ve recovered from that [play-off] disappointment and the [fact that] they’re back up there in the top three again [this season] speaks volumes of them.”
Away from the pitch, the squad has been hit with illness in recent weeks.
“The biggest challenge we’ve got at the moment, which is I think in general around here, is illness,” Nigel said.
“The bugs and so on that are going round have laid down a few players. It’s coming from their children unfortunately.
“I think there are so many different viruses going around that are affecting kids that they are passing them on to their parents.
“We’ve had about five or six in the last week that have gone down with it [a bug] and it’s pretty serious as well. It’s not just a 24-hour bug.
“With injuries [however], we’re not too bad at the moment. It’s just the illness.
“Jordan Bowery has had it, James Perch has had it, Oli Hawkins has had it, George Lapslie has had it - just about all of them. So many of them have young families as well. It’s inevitable that it just gets passed on.”
The manager outlined the Stags’ schedule ahead of Boxing Day’s eagerly-anticipated clash - starting with a friendly at Lincoln City tomorrow.
“A good 45 minutes [for each player] at Lincoln on Wednesday, off Thursday and then in on Friday and Saturday,” said the boss.
“We’ve had Christmas day off for the last few years wherever we’ve been, and we’ve looked at it prior to that.
“Sometimes we’ve been in and sometimes we’ve been off, and the results really haven’t varied so we’re quite happy - especially with so many young children in the camp [belonging to players] - it’s a special time for them [the squad] to spend with their families.”
With January soon approaching, Nigel also provided an insight into the club’s potential transfer dealings next month.
“I think two or three ins and outs wouldn’t do any harm,” he said.
“We don’t want more numbers in terms of adding to the squad [total]. I think we’ve got enough [numerically].
“But, if there’s a couple of lads maybe going out that want regular football then that’ll free a couple of spaces up to get a couple of players in.
“We certainly don’t need wholesale changes in January. We just one, two, three - no more than three - just to freshen it up.
“We’ve had one or two enquiries for our lads. We’ve got one or two contract extensions ongoing as well with the current squad so we'll see how they go.”
Clough tells iFollow Stags about a possible new contract for Lapslie: "we've been discussing it for a month or so, and we're hoping that we can get that resolved"
Clough also says "we need a real solid defender". He later adds to BBC Radio Nottingham: "we've conceded too many goals, so defensively, that will be the main area [for freshening the squad up]"
On the Grimsby postponement, Clough tells iFollow Stags that Mansfield wanted to re-arrange the Grimsby game to Tuesday night (20th), but Grimsby didn't.
Clough added that the Stags are playing a training game against Lincoln tomorrow (21st), 45 minutes for everyone.
That will include Jimmy Knowles getting 45 minutes. On Knowles, the club are extending his contract to the end of the season, to give him every opportunity to get fit.
Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough set to freshen up his squad in January
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 20 Dec 2022
Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough is set to freshen up his squad with up to three changes in the January transfer window with a dominant defender his prime target.
Clough is very happy with the current squad when all fit but said: “I think there will be two or three ins or outs or whatever. It wouldn't do any harm.
“It's always nice for the existing players and supporters to bring one or two new faces in.
“We don't want more numbers in terms of adding to the squad. We've got enough.
“But if there are a couple of lads going out who want regular football it will free up a couple of places to get a couple of players in.
“Getting James Gale and Jason Law out on loan are the most important two, being on the fringes of the first team squad. But if there are one or two others who can't quite get in at the moment then we won't stand in their way.
read more at https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town-boss-nigel-clough-set-to-freshen-up-his-squad-in-january-3960979?fbclid=IwAR1PVbILKTeqaZxBCRTT59mTr9fAfglow3pbhIEUvzqINIOznElb3YARFUQ
“We certainly don't need wholesale changes in January. It will be no more than three just to freshen it up.”
“We have had one or two enquiries for our lads and we have one or two contract negotiations ongoing as well with the current squad, so we will see how they go too.”
One of those is key midfielder George Lapslie and Clough said: “We have been discussing that for a month or so and we are hoping we can get that resolved.
“We won't be panicking in the window, and if we end up sticking with what we've got and they stay fit we have a lot of options and we are very happy.
“We are strong in the midfield area, but maybe we need a really solid defender.
“Scoring goals and creating chances has not been too much of a problem for us.
“Now Rhys (Oates) is fit up front we have Swanny (Will Swan) and Lucas Akins can go up there too so we have good options. But we have conceded too many goals.
“Ideally you would like to get things done early but it doesn't always work out like that.”
Walsall are expected to make on-loan Stags striker Danny Johnson's move permanent after netting 15 goals already.
“Danny is one that's up for discussion at the moment, but that's probably at board level not our level at the moment,” said Clough.
Veteran striker Theo Robinson is back training with Stags, having done the same in the summer, but Clough said he would not be given a contract with Mansfield.
He explained: “Theo got back in touch a week or so ago and, although he is contracted to Hartlepool until January, they are not pursuing things so he asked if he could just come in and tick over to keep fit so he has a chance of going somewhere else in January.
“We said yes, so he got permission from Hartlepool to do so.
“But he is purely here for training. We have made it clear to Theo that we have enough striking options.”
Christmas Day off for Mansfield Town players as stats show no great benefit in session before Boxing Day
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 20 Dec 2022
Nigel Clough said he turned his back of the tradition of having players in on Christmas Day as it showed no great benefits in Boxing Day results or performances.
The Mansfield Town boss was used to working Christmas Day as a player, as was his father Brian, but said now the trend was to allow players to spend the day with their families.
“We have had Christmas Day off for the last few years wherever we have been,” he said.
“Prior to that sometimes we have been in and sometimes we have been off and results really haven't varied.
“So we are quite happy, especially with so many young children in the camp with the players. It's a special time for them to spend with their families.
“It was more of a tradition than anything else but then we said why are we doing this? Fitness-wise does it make any difference?
“We looked at the running data and results for Boxing Day to see if it was any different when we brought them in Christmas Day to when they had the day off and did two good days before that - and there was no discernable difference.
“We just remind them that everything they do on Christmas Day is towards preparing for Boxing Day. They know - they are professionals.”
He continued: “As a player it was tradition we always trained Christmas Day.
“It wasn't too bad. You'd come in early and get it out the way. Training the day before is a game is never a long session anyway.
“The worst bit was if you were away on Boxing Day and had to travel Christmas night. So you would go home, have your Christmas lunch, relax for a couple of hours and then be back in at 5pm to travel.
“You played four games in nine or 10 days so festivities went out of the window and you literally just prepared for those games, then recovered and got ready for the next one.”
Father Brian was certainly of that old tradition.
“When we were growing up we always had our Christmas lunch on Christmas Eve as my dad always worked on Boxing Day,” he said.
“So we always had it then as it was a bit more relaxed when he got back in from training on Christmas Day - football always affected it to that degree where we changed the day for Christmas lunch.”
Having the day off certainly cheers the players and midfielder Stephen Quinn said: “It will be carnage with three kids, the wife and the wife's family.
“I will be cooking while they're opening presents and drinking.
“The gaffer is a family man and he makes sure none of lads are alone at Christmas - that they've got family or places to go to have a good dinner and a bit of down time.
“I am really looking forward to it - I love Christmas.”
Mansfield Town shake off the rust in Lincoln City friendly ahead of hectic festive period
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 20 Dec 2022
Mansfield Town are today playing a behind-closed-doors friendly at Lincoln Town's training ground to get them ready for next week's busy festive period.
Stags saw their game at home to Grimsby Town called off last weekend due to the frozen pitch.
The Lincoln game was originally only going to involve the subs and fringe players but after losing Saturday's game, manager Nigel Clough said all squad members would play today.
“We were going to just use for the players who needed a game. But we are now going to extend it, use it as a good training session and everybody will play at least 45 minutes,” he said.
“Then we will be off Thursday and in Friday and Saturday in preparation for Boxing Day.
“The biggest challenge is always keeping people fit who are not playing. So we will organise another game in early January for those who don't play over the Christmas period.
“Jimmy Knowles will play 45 minutes at Lincoln and then we will see how he is from there. This is literally his first time back on the pitch in a competitive game after injury.
“We are extending his contract to the end of the season to give him every opportunity to get fit.”
Clough said it was illness rather than injury that was affecting the camp at the moment.
“We are not too bad on injuries. The biggest challenge we have at the moment is illness with so many bugs going around which have laid down a few players,” he said.
“It is coming from the children unfortunately. They are passing it on to their parents and we have had five or six in the past week go down with it and it's been pretty serious, not just a 24 hour bug. It's lasting a few days and some are really feeling the effects. it in their recovery on the training pitch.
“Jordan Bowery has had it, James Perch, Oli Hawkins, George Lapslie have all had it - just about all of them with young families - it's inevitable when things go round. It just gets passed on.”
On losing last weekend's game, he added: “We changed our training session on Friday as we usually only have a light session but heard the game was off, despite everyone's best efforts. “We had the pitch covered for days, as did everyone in the league, but I think only two games survived which shows the severity of the temperatures.
“It's not just the odd day it's when it's three or four nights at minus six or minus seven. The covers can't protect against that.
“So we had a really good session on the Friday then the lads had a rare weekend off.”
Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough issues warning over Northampton Town revenge mission on Boxing Day
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 20 Dec 2022
Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough has warned Boxing Day visitors Northampton Town will be on a revenge mission.
Stags, whose game at home to Grimsby Town was frozen off last weekend, beat the Cobblers over two legs in last season's play-off semi-final after Northampton had only just missed out on an automatic promotion place on the last day of the season.
“It is not ideal not playing for two weeks then having three in seven days coming up as we were just building up a bit of momentum,” said Clough.
“But Boxing Day is always a special game. Supporters come out and everyone looks forward to it.
“Especially with it being Northampton, I think it will have a little bit of something extra and we can't underestimate their desire for a bit of revenge for what happened in the play-offs as it's the first time we've played each other since.
“If we were in that situation we would be doing exactly the same. It's not bad blood or anything like that. It's just a healthy, professional wish to turn the tables on the team that knocked you out of the play-offs.
“We do get on well with them and we had a good chat in the summer when they were playing on the next pitch to us in Scotland.”
The Cobblers are currently third with Stags fifth and Clough said: “The way they have recovered from that disappointment and got back up there in the top three again speaks volumes for them.
“They have only lost a couple players, like everyone, but there's not been too much of a turnover. They still have the nucleus of the squad and they have just kept on doing what they were doing.
“You think how close they were to automatic promotion on that last day. It was only Bristol Rovers' freak result that denied them.
“They are hard to break down and are probably a little more dangerous away from home at the moment. You don't want to go behind against them as that would make it even harder.”
Going into the busy spell of three games in a week, Clough said: “We are in a promising position in that play-off top seven.
“Ideally we would want to be a little bit higher. But with certainly losing Rhys Oates and Hiram Boateng and one or two others, that has just held us back.
“Another win or draw in the first 20-odd games and we would be right up there chasing the top three. That's how close it is.
“We have been a bit up and down and inconsistent so I am hoping the second half of the season we will be better. If everyone stays fit I think we will be.
“It's not bad and we still have the chance to pick up a few more points and maybe edge up that table.
“It's also interesting that six of the top eight did not get promotion which just shows it';s not a guarantee - you are just challenging.
“It just shows the level of consistency we're achieving. We have been up in that top seven now for over a year and that's where you want to be and just keep improving, edging forward and making progress - and hopefully we will get there.
“Wembley was the only real low point. We have lost a couple at home recently but over the year our home form has been incredible.”
He added: “I had a wry smile when I was listening to the World Cup final second half and heard the commentator saying you just can't believe France to a man hadn't turned up. It just happens in football - we are all imperfect human beings, not robots and it happened to us at Wembley.
“France are the best players in the world, World champions and World Cup winning manager. They would have made every preparation they could have done.
“Sometimes it just doesn't happen on the day and until Argentinian gifted them a penalty they didn't look the game at all.”
Quinn excited for Stags’ festive fixtures
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 20 Dec 2022
Midfielder Stephen Quinn is relishing the Stags’ festive fixture schedule starting with Northampton Town at home on Boxing Day, the 36-year-old said in a news conference today.
The former Sheffield United man has made a total of 22 appearances for Nigel Clough’s side this season, who sit in fifth position in Sky Bet League Two.
Stags will face the Cobblers at One Call Stadium on 26 December followed by a trip to Hartlepool three days later before journeying to Walsall on New Year’s Day.
And Quinn is particularly excited for the home test of fellow promotion rivals Northampton and said: “Everyone looks forward to the Boxing Day games. It’s a tradition to go to.
“I’m glad we’re at home and I’m looking forward to seeing the Stags’ supporters bouncing around on Boxing Day. I’m really looking forward to the game against Northampton and we know it’s going to be a tough game.”
Last weekend’s league fixture against Grimsby Town was postponed due to a frozen pitch because of sub-zero temperatures in Mansfield, and Quinn said: “It was a bit disappointing the game was called off last week but I think we’re in a good place and we’re looking forward to the second-half [of the season].
“We’re in a better position than last season and that’s for sure. We had to go on that unbelievable run [last season] to claw our way back.
“It’s tough, it’s gritty, especially this part of the season where you just have to hang in there in games.”
Assessing the campaign so far, the Irishman said: “We’re in a good position in the league to strike, we’re keeping up with the pack. Obviously we wish we were a little higher up the table but I think we’re happy enough and in a good position.
“It’s been difficult losing a couple of players, especially Oatesy [Rhys Oates] for that period [within the last few months].
“Some of the results weren’t going our way and were disappointing but we’ve hung in there.
“Oatesy [Rhys Oates] is a main threat for us to get us up the pitch [now he is back from injury]. He scares the life out of defenders so it is obviously great to get him back.
“We’ve got other players coming back as well. We haven’t got the biggest of squads so it’s [now] looking strong and we’re concentrating on that base of keeping it solid at the back and taking it from there.
“We have the likes of Oatesy [Rhys Oates] and Swanny [Will Swan] getting goals, Lucas [Akins] can also play up there [at striker] or on the wings as he does. He’s a huge player for us.”
Mansfield Town are perfectly poised in the table to strike says veteran Stephen Quinn
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 20 Dec 2022
Mansfield Town veteran midfielder Stephen Quinn believes Stags are going into the hectic festive period in better shape than a year ago.
Stags are fifth ahead of Boxing Day's visit of Northampton Town and Quinn said: “We are in a good position in the league to strike. We are keeping up with the pack.
“Obviously we wish we were a bit higher up the table, but we are in a good position and happy enough. We're looking forward to the second half of the season and all guns blazing towards Northampton.
“We are in a better position now then we were at this stage last season when we had to go on that unbelievable run to claw our way back.
“It seems to be a similar league to what I have been playing in over the last season and a half. The top two are starting to break away a little bit.
“But you never know, we could claw that back as we have in the past.
“It's been a year of highs and lows but it's how you react to them. All the experiences will stand us in good stead. We have built a strong cohesion in the squad and we have some great lads and characters. It is also a learning curve, especially for the younger lads.
“Some of the results didn't go our way, which has been disappointing, but we have hung in there, especially over the last couple of games, and built from a solid base.
“We have started to build momentum, so I was disappointed the game was called off last weekend after that strong, solid squad performance at Stevenage.”
He added: “It is tough and gritty, especially this time of the season when you just have to hang in there in games.
“Argentina have just shown that at the highest level. You have to find that grit and determination and find the will and doggedness to try to find a win.
“We will look to do that over the coming months and hopefully will have enough about us.
“You do like to spend time with your family and the Christmas spirit. But everyone looks forward to the traditional Boxing Day game and I am just glad we are at home and will see the Stags supporters bouncing around.
“We know it will be another massive and tough game against Northampton.
“They are in a similar spot to last season and with us beating them in the play-offs, that will probably be something that will be on their minds.
“They will probably look to get a scalp off us and get one over on us, but we are ready and champing at the bit.
“The games come thick and fast but this is the time of year when you get the points on board and get a bit of momentum. It's a cracking time of year for your family and those coming watching games on Boxing Day.”
Both Cobblers and Mansfield struck down by illness before Boxing Day meeting
northamptonchron.co.uk, By James Heneghan, 22 Dec 2022
Both Mansfield and Northampton have been struck down by illness ahead of their Boxing Day meeting at Field Mill.
The Cobblers were without midfielder Jack Sowerby against Carlisle United on Tuesday after he pulled out due to feeling unwell while Mitch Pinnock was only fit enough to play 15 minutes from the bench.
Manager Jon Brady revealed afterwards that several other players were also affected, including Shaun McWilliams who was forced off with cramp in the closing stages of Tuesday’s 2-1 victory. It’s the third time this season that a sickness bug has made its way through Town’s squad.
"Shaun (McWilliams) had to come off with cramp and he's another one who has been ill,” said Brady. “There's been another illness bug go through the whole group.
"Sowerby pulled out before the game and Mitch could only be on the bench and there were other players who played with illness as well, but it's just the time of year and we have to deal with it."
If anything, though, the situation appears worse at Boxing Day opponents Mansfield. The Stags have not played since last weekend and were due to take on Lincoln in a friendly on Wednesday.
“The biggest challenge we’ve got at the moment is illness,” said manager Nigel Clough. “The bugs and so on that are going round have laid down a few players. It’s coming from their children unfortunately.
“I think there are so many different viruses going around that are affecting kids that they are passing them on to their parents. We’ve had about five or six in the last week that have gone down with it and it’s pretty serious as well. It’s not just a 24-hour bug.
“With injuries, we’re not too bad at the moment. It’s just the illness. Jordan Bowery has had it, James Perch has had it, Oli Hawkins has had it, George Lapslie has had it - just about all of them. So many of them have young families as well. It’s inevitable that it just gets passed on.”
Latest | December 2022