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Archived News from January 2023

9th January 2023 23:10

Boss provides player and transfer update
mansfieldtown.net, Wed 4 Jan 2023

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough has revealed that the club has made three enquiries for potential reinforcements as the boss looks to further bolster the Stags’ promotion push.

The gaffer said in a news conference today that he expects so see movement in the January transfer window following this weekend’s Emirates FA Cup third round fixture schedule.

Mansfield are in Sky Bet League Two action this weekend at home to Barrow - in the club’s first home outing of 2023 - a side Stags defeated in each of the three meetings between the two teams last calendar year.


When asked about the possibility of new faces joining in a news conference at RH Academy this morning, the gaffer said: “It [transfer activity] tends to be after the FA Cup [third round] weekend.

“A lot of team includes players in their [extended matchday] squads [for FA Cup fixtures].

“We’ve made enquiries for three players that we’re just waiting for decisions [on], but it will be after the weekend [before anything is likely].”

Clough told Radio Nottingham: "The enquiries were made before January 1st. We've conceded too many goals so defensively we could do with a body. And somebody with a bit of quality in the final third, as that's been lacking as well at times."

One player already in the building that the club are looking to tie down to an extended contract is George Lapslie. The midfielder, who has Stags’ most goal involvements this season, is out of contract at the end of the campaign.

“They’re [contract talks] ongoing at the moment. I don’t think it looks too favourable at the moment but they’re ongoing,” said the Stags’ chief.

After losing away at Walsall on New Year’s Day - despite a dominant performance from the manager’s men - Mansfield missed the opportunity to climb up to fourth in Sky Bet League Two.

“[It was] Hugely disappointing,” said the boss.

“I think the Christmas period has been.

“To get four points out of nine, really, we could have had nine points if we’d defended better. We’ve given away four, from our point of view, very poor goals and ended up with just the four points instead of nine.

“Having got the four points in the first two games, you go to Walsall on New Year’s Day despite missing a good few bodies and still put on a performance that should be good enough to get a result.”

Midfielder Anthony Hartigan was withdrawn at the Poundland Bescot Stadium in what was a recurrence of the shoulder injury he sustained at Grimsby in the Papa Johns Trophy in September.

“He dislocated his shoulder again which is the second time, following the one at Grimsby.

“He’s been playing in a harness which has been protecting it [the shoulder] but it was just so innocuous. He just sort of put his left hand up - it jarred it out.

“He’ll be seeing a specialist on Saturday I believe. We’ll know a bit more as to what’s going to happen.

“It’s likely that he will need an operation now and get it fully repaired which will be, we don’t know, two or three months. It might rule him out for the rest of the season, we’ll see.”

The gaffer’s squad have been hit hard by injury and illness in recent weeks. Defender Elliott Hewitt missed Saturday’s match due to a virus.

“These bugs that are going round at the moment aren’t too pleasant,” said Nigel.

“He’s [Hewitt] had a few days [off with illness] and we hope that he’s back in training this week and ready for Saturday.”

The boss rounded up the latest on the injury front.

“He’s [Ollie Clarke] had a scan. He’s going to be [out for] a good few weeks. (4 weeks, Clough told Radio Nottingham)

“[Riley Harbottle is] The same. We think three or four weeks from this point. It just depends how he heals and how his rehab goes but certainly ruling him out of Saturday.

“[Lucas Akins and Kieran Wallace’s injuries are] Both similar. Although one was a kick and one was a twist [on their ankles]. We think they’re going to be a similar sort of time.

“They have an outside chance for Saturday, but more likely for Crewe.

“He [James Gale] is injured. He’s got problems with his shins at the moment. Shin splints or something like that - discomfort. We think he’ll be about a month.”

Left-back Lewis Page’s month-long contract at the club has expired. The former West Ham defender is, however, continuing his rehabilitation at RH Academy before any decision is made about a new contract.

“The club aren’t going to renew it whilst he’s still injured so we’ll see if he gets fit and see what happens in January with him.

“He’s not training. He’s in the gym and receiving physio but he’s a free agent so he might get fixed up somewhere else in January.”

Saturday’s opponents, Barrow, sit three places and two points behind Mansfield in 10th. The manager believes Stags must start to find consistency if they’re to beat the Bluebirds and establish themselves in the automatic promotion picture.

“They [Barrow] had a great start to the season but they’re still very, very dangerous opponents [despite a recent blip],” he said.

“They’re one of the most honest sides and hard-working sides in the league and that’s what has got them up there.

“I think most teams barring the top three are having these little stutters but the top three look as though they’re pulling away at the moment.

“We’ve got 22 games and 66 points to try and put a dent in that.”


Is Anthony Hartigan’s season over with Mansfield Town?
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Wed 4 Jan 2023

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough fears midfielder Anthony Hartigan's season may already be over after his second dislocated shoulder of the season at Walsall.

“I believe Anthony will be seeing a specialist on Saturday and then we will know a bit more of what is going to happen,” he said.

“But it is likely he will need an operation now to get it fully repaired which could rule him out for the rest of the season. We will see. It's a real blow for him.

“Before the first one I thought he was really settling in, then he did his shoulder at Grimsby and he has never really got back to the standards he showed before that.


“But he was getting there and now he has had this latest setback.”

Hartigan is one of eight walking wounded Clough may be unable to call on for Saturday's home clash with Barrow.

“Lucas Akins and Keiran Wallace will be a week or so we hope,” he said.

“Elliott Hewitt has had a few days off with his illness but we are hoping he will be back in training this week and ready for Saturday.

“Ollie Clarke has had a scan and will be a good few weeks - the same with Riley Harbottle. We think three or four weeks depending on how he heals and how his rehab goes.

“Lucas Akins has a similar ankle problem to Kieran. They both have an outside chance for Saturday but are more likely for the Crewe game.

“James Gale has problems with his shins - shin splints or something like that - and we think he will be another month.”

With the January window open Clough is now waiting to see if his three targets will join the Stags' promotion push.

“We have made enquiries in for the three players we want and are just waiting on decisions,” he said.

“But it will be after the weekend. Things tends to warm up after the FA Cup weekend this weekend as a lot of teams include players in their squads.”

Clough is still hoping he can also extend midfield ace George Lapslie's contract, which expires in the summer, but admitted: “The negotiations are ongoing but I don't think it looks too favourable at the moment.”

The one month contract for free agent left back Lewis Page has now expired and he remains injured.

“The club won't renew it while he is still injured so we will see if he gets fit and see what happens in January with him,” said Clough

“Is is in the gym and receiving physio, but he is not training. He is a free agent, so he might well get fixed up somewhere else in January.”


Barrow still dangerous despite stutter in form says Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough ahead of clash with promotion rivals
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Wed 4 Jan 2023

Nigel Clough wants to see his Mansfield Town promotion-chasers get back on track on Saturday - but warns visiting rivals Barrow will be dangerous opposition, despite going five games without a win.

“The Christmas period was hugely frustrating us - to get four points out of nine when really we could have had all nine if we'd defended better,” said the Stags manager. “We gave away four very poor goals.

“The Walsall game completely epitomised our season so far. We have played well enough in games to get results but we have given away soft goals from the first game at Salford right the way through to New Year's Day.

“No matter how good your forward play, is it is very difficult to win games if you are conceding soft and unnecessary goals.”


Stags sit in the seventh and final play-off spot, eight points off the top three and just two points ahead of 10th-placed Barrow, whom Stags have twice beaten in league and cup encounters away from home already this season.

“Barrow had a great start to the season and are still very dangerous opponents,” said Clough.

“They are one of the most honest and hard-working sides in the league. That is what got them up there.

“They are a very difficult side to break down. We found that at their place but managed to score a couple of scrappy goals from set plays, then had to defend extremely well.

“They were probably two of our best defensive performances of the season up there. So we are capable of it and we're going to have to do that again on Saturday to get a result.”

He added: “I still think Barrow will be there or thereabouts. There are some strong sides in the top 10 at the moment, but I don't think they will be far away.

“Most teams bar the top three are having these little stutters. The top three look as though they are pulling away at the moment.

“We have 22 games and 66 points available to try to put a dent in that.”


Oli Hawkins says he is 'main threat' up front despite defensive duties

Mansfield Town's Oli Hawkins still regards himself as one of League Two's most dangerous target men, but says he is relishing the trust placed in him as a defender at the Stags.

The 30-year-old joined Mansfield as a striker in 2021, but has largely played at centre-back under boss Nigel Clough.

But he remains an option up front, and took his tally to five goals this term with the winner at Hartlepool recently.

"I enjoy both and see myself as both," Hawkins told BBC Radio Nottingham.

"For this club, this manager and for this team I really do like playing at the back. In this league, a lot of games suit me at the back.

"I do feel that I'm one of the best defenders in the league and I do still feel like I'm one of the main threats as a target man.

"For this current time at Mansfield I see myself as little more of a centre-half just because it's where I have been playing most and where I feel trusted."

'Stags can have good second half of season'
At 6ft 6in (1.98m) tall, and with a history of covering in defence during his career, Hawkins was shuffled into the Stags backline when injuries left them short last season.

He has since gone on to establish himself as a mainstay at the back, holding his spot at centre-half in a side hit hard again by injuries.

"I'm just happy to do what I'm told to do and give it all I can," he said.

"If that's trying to keep a clean sheet or going up front to score a goal, then that's what I'm going to do.

"Nothing will beat the feeling of scoring a goal in football. But as a defender, keeping a clean sheet is just underneath scoring a goal."

One of Hawkins' five goals this season was the winner in their FA Cup win at Barrow. Another win against the Cumbrians in the league will ensure the Stags consolidate their place in the play-off spots.

The former Ipswich and Portsmouth forward is adamant Mansfield can improve on their inconsistent first half of the season to again feature among the promotion hopefuls.

"I think we will have a good second half to the season, we have the capability to do better," he said.

"We definitely have the right players and I'm sure the gaffer will add a couple new faces and they will help us as well.

"We went on that [14 league game] unbeaten run last season and we can 100% do that again."


Hawkins confident heading into second-half of season
mansfieldtown.net, Wed 4 Jan 2023

Defender Oli Hawkins says the Stags are ready to kick on for the second-half of the campaign and push for promotion.

The former Ipswich Town man has made a total of 25 appearances for Nigel Clough’s side this season, who currently sit in seventh position in Sky Bet League Two.

And although the 30-year-old believes the amber and blue are in a better position than this point last season, he says they are ready to fight their way up the table and aim for promotion to Sky Bet League One.


Speaking to iFollow Stags in a news conference at RH Academy this morning, Hawkins said: “I think [it’s been] an improvement on last season, not a great improvement but we’re in a better spot than we were last season. [We] still [have] another half [of the campaign] to go and with the squad we’ve got, the fanbase and everyone within the club, we’re ready to kick on for the second-half of the season to try and get going and push for promotion.”

Hawkins, who can feature at both centre-back and striker has been a pivotal part to Nigel Clough’s structure this campaign.

Assessing his own displays so far, he said: “[My performances have been] pretty similar to last year really, just making sure that I’m available, fit to play when selected and just giving my all wherever I’m playing whether it’s at the back or upfront [and to] do the best I can to score a goal [or] keep a clean sheet and just do the best I can to try and help get the team promoted.

“I haven’t been up there for a while and I’m not used to that anymore but at least I know when I do go up there, I’m confident and capable of getting a goal.”

As well as appearing in forward areas against Hartlepool, the 30-year-old also featured upfront in the dying stages of Stags’ New Year’s Day defeat to Walsall.

“I don’t miss the running. When you’re a striker there is a lot of running into channels and stuff and I haven’t missed that. It’s just how games go in this league really, when Lucas [Akins] isn't playing or Bowz [Jordan Bowery] we haven’t got that focal point.

“We’ve got Oatesy [Rhys Oates] and Swanny [Will Swan] who are obviously unbelievable players and quick but their game is not being a target man.

“It helps the team out that I can be thrown up there. I’ve done it all my career really, being up there, winning headers and trying to make things happen.”

Mansfield take on Barrow at One Call Stadium on Saturday afternoon as they look to strengthen their hold on a play-off position.

Speaking ahead of the visit of the Bluebirds, Oli said: “They definitely are [hard to break down] at their place because of the conditions and the area [that their stadium is in] with the wind and everything.

“Defensively they’re probably one of the biggest back fours you’ll get in this league. They’ve got all different kinds of players in front of them, small, big, quick [players]. They’re a difficult team [to play against].”


Defender Oli Hawkins happy to be great striker option for Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Wed 4 Jan 2023

Mansfield Town ace Oli Hawkins is now settled as a regular centre half, but admits he still enjoys being thrown up front into his old centre forward role when Stags are chasing games.

The towering Hawkins scored in the comeback win at Hartlepool last week and came close in Sunday's defeat at Walsall after being pushed up.

“I don't miss the running up front. But it does help the team that I can be thrown up there as a target man,” he said.

“I have done it all my career, being up there, winning headers and trying to make things happen.


“I still love doing it but I am just not as used to it as I was before.

“But if the game needs it I am there to help.

“We don't want to go long - we still try to play and put balls into the right areas.

“But if it is the last 10-15 minutes, I don't think there is anything wrong in just kicking it into the box and hoping for second balls. You just don't want to do it for 90 minutes.”

He added: “The first half of this season has been a bit of an improvement on last season - not a great improvement but I think we are in a better spot.

“There is still half a season to go and with the squad we've got and fan base and everyone in the club we are ready to kick on in the second half and push for promotion.”

On the last two festive games, he said: “They were two really tough, battling games.

“We did really well after going behind at Hartlepool to come back and win the game.

“At Walsall we were the more dominant side in the first half, had more possession and more shots, but came away with nothing.

“We have to move on from that now and focus on the next few games.”Missing eight players has not helped matters for Mansfield.

“This last month has been a difficult period with injuries and a lot of people getting ill and having to have a few days off training,” he said.

“Myself and my partner and our two boys were ill for over a week.

“But I think we have dealt with it well and we have a big enough squad to chop and change when we need to.

“Hopefully going into the New Year, with a few additions and people coming back from injury, we look very strong to finish this off.”

Hawkins has twice been involved in wins at Saturday's opponents Barrow this season and said: “They are difficult to play against at their place because of the conditions and the area it's in with the wind.

“Defensively they are probably one of the biggest back fours you will get in this league. And they have all different type of players of front of them.

“I think it will be a completely different game here on Saturday as our pitch is a bit bigger and hopefully we will be able to play a bit more football and control the game a bit more. We will be at them from minute one.”



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