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Archived News from January 2023

CLOUGH TRANSFER UPDATE, PLUS HEWITT INTERVIEW
14th January 2023 0:03


Manager provides transfer update
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 10 Jan 2023

Boss Nigel Clough has provided an update on the Stags’ prospective transfer activity, speaking at a news conference at RH Academy this morning.

The club have made enquiries for three players, while updates were also given on striker Danny Johnson - whose loan at Walsall is set to expire on Sunday - and midfielder George Lapslie - who’s turned down a new, enhanced contract.

Speaking about the two aforementioned players, the manager said: “I believe there’s been some enquiries for Danny [Johnson]. David [Sharpe, CEO] and the board are handling those.

https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2023/january/manager-provides-transfer-update/

“It’s a bit of a stalemate at the moment,” said the gaffer, speaking about Lapslie’s new contract offer. “We made an improved offer, which was rejected. I think there has to be a desire for George’s representatives to come back and say, ‘listen, this is what it will take for him to stay’. Anything can happen in the next couple of weeks. We just have to be realistic.”

On prospective new incomings, the manager said: “We’re having a meeting today (Tuesday) with David Sharpe to go over options.

“[It is] Unlikely I think [that players will be brought in before Saturday].

“We’re not going to chase players that aren’t as good as what we’ve got. They have to be at least as good or different in order to improve the squad.”

The manager revealed that defender Stephen McLaughlin is a doubt for Saturday’s match at home to Crewe, but versatile midfielder Kieran Wallace could be in line for a return to the squad.

“He’s [McLaughlin] not training,” said the manager. “He came off with an ankle injury - which we’ve got three of at the moment. One was a blocked tackle, one was a kick and one was a twist. That’s three that we’ve got with Lucas [Akins] and Kieran Wallace as well.

“He’s [McLaughlin] not training in the middle of the week. We’ll see how he is on Friday.

“I would think [he has a] 50/50 [chance of playing Saturday] at the moment, something like that.

“Out of the three, Kieran Wallace has probably got the best chance at the moment [of featuring this Saturday at home to Crewe] but we’re hopeful.

“He’s [Akins] not training either in the middle of the week. You’re talking two or three days so you hope the improvement is sufficient so that they can train on Friday morning.”

Crewe Alexandra are next up at One Call Stadium, managed by former Mansfield midfielder Lee Bell, who briefly played under Nigel at Burton.

Speaking about Saturday’s opponents, he said: “I’ve watched them [Crewe] a couple of times this season and they don’t half hang on in there in games.

“I saw them against Leeds in the Papa Johns [Trophy] and Leeds must have had 70% of the game but they defended fantastically, and I think they ended up nicking it.

“They’re that sort of team at the moment. They got a very good 0-0 on Saturday and we know Lee Bell, he came on loan for us at Burton.

“They’re trying to get that balance between everybody associating Crewe with this way of playing but they’re in League Two and probably haven’t got the players to play the way Crewe always have done.

“They’re trying to navigate a way through, and I think they’re doing very, very well at it.”

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No new faces imminent for Mansfield Town as transfer window edges towards halfway point
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 10 Jan 2023

No new faces are expected in before Saturday's visit of Crewe Alexandra as Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough assesses his options with the January transfer window reaching its halfway point this weekend.

Clough has said he may freshen things up with up to three new players.

He also needs to make a decision on the future of striker Danny Johnson, who has scored 14 goals in all competitions for Walsall where his loan ends this weekend.

“I believe there have been some enquiries for Danny. The board are handling those,” said Clough.

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/no-new-faces-imminent-for-mansfield-town-as-transfer-window-edges-towards-halfway-point-3983155

“We do have an option to call Danny back from Sunday, so David (CEO Sharpe) and the owners will be discussing that one.

“There is always a way back in for anybody and he has scored some goals.

“We always knew he would score goals at this level, that's why we brought him in.

“We just couldn't fit him into the way we were playing. Whether he would score those goals in the way we play I don't know.

“The dilemma we have is if we bring him back and play him, then he couldn't play for anybody else but Walsall if he did go somewhere before the end of the month.”

Otherwise, Clough is still chasing his original targets and so far they have not said no.

But if they do not come off he said he won't be signing players for the sake of it.

“We are having a meeting with David Sharpe to go over options and to see the position of the two or three we've enquired after,” he said.

“I think it is unlikely anything will happen before the weekend.

“There are a few that have gone through in general in League Two, but most things usually happen in the last week of a window.

“If it happens it happens. If it doesn't we're not going to chase players that are not as good as what we've got. They have to be at least as good or different in order to improve the squad.

“We are trying to get into that top seven and I think we have enough to do that.

“We set out at the start of the season to put a squad in place, but it has been decimated at times with injury.

“I am not tempted to make the squad bigger as none of our injuries are long term, apart from Anthony Hartigan. We hope to have them all back by the end of January.

“If that changes we will know that by then which is a good thing - the likes of Riley Harbottle and Ollie Clarke.”

He added: “We are still in with a shout of our prime targets. It's not a massive list. January is not a good window in which to do business. Everybody will tell you that.

“There may be the odd loan here or there, but that may well depend on what happens with George Lapslie too.”

Clough does look to have now lost the services of Hartigan for the rest of the season following his second dislocated shoulder of the campaign.

“Losing Anthony for the rest of the season is a big blow,” said Clough.

“He needs an operation so that will rule him out for three months. We will take it from there. We're talking about April time so it's not going to give him a lot of time to get back and be fit.

“I spoke to him last week. There is nothing he can do. He's gone back home and he is waiting for the operation.

“We will have to see what happens in January but I still think we have enough in that dressing room if they're all fit.”

Clough has already admitted the club may lose midfield ace George Lapslie in the window.

An improved offer has been made to the 25-year-old, whose current deal runs out in the summer.

But, if he doesn't want to sign it, Clough expects the club may cash in on any decent offers from elsewhere.

Clough said: “It has stalled a little bit and I think we are at a bit of an impasse.

“It's a bit of a stalemate at the moment, though I think David Sharpe (club CEO) is still in touch with them.

“I think there has to be a desire from both parties.

“There has to be a desire from George's representatives to come back to us and say this is what it would take for him to stay or even that George does want to stay - that is the first thing we want, knowing he wants to stay at the club.

“George is a Southern lad and that may be coming into it. I have no problem with George whatsoever, but it is an important contract for him at his age and geographic circumstances may come into it.

“Anything can happen in the next couple of weeks, but we just have to be realistic about the situation.”

Lapslie joined Stags on loan from Charlton Athletic in October 202, but made the move a permanent one by January 2021, winning Player of the Season. He has scored seven goals in all competitions this season.

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Our luck will turn says Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough ahead of Crewe Alexandra visit
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 10 Jan 2023

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough has told his side their luck will turn and to carry on playing as they are ahead of Saturday's visit of Crewe Alexandra.

Stags saw a 2-0 lead turn into a 3-2 defeat at home to Barrow last weekend but Clough said: “You look at the last two games against Walsall and Barrow and we have conceded five goals and the total number of shots on goal against us over those two games has been five - a 100 per cent conversion rate.

“The goal just before half-time on Saturday changed the whole complex of the game and the whole atmosphere in the stadium.

“We are making mistakes and not helping ourselves, but we are getting punished for them, probably disproportionately and it won't continue. But the best way to avoid that is not to make the mistakes.

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/our-luck-will-turn-says-mansfield-town-boss-nigel-clough-ahead-of-crewe-alexandra-visit-3983213

“The last two performances were not bad performances and could have easily have yielded six points.

“In fact in the last four games we have got four points but could have beaten Northampton bar the mistake in the 88th minute and performances were probably good enough to get something against Walsall and Barrow.”

He added: “I want more of the same on Saturday. It's important we play with confidence and freedom - and in the last two games against Walsall and Barrow we have done that.

“Going forward we have created lots of chances and lots of situations. Our general football has been good so we don't need much to change other than concentrate at certain times and try not to make those mistakes.

“That is how close we are. We are sitting here with four points out of 12 over Christmas and early January. Without doing too much differently we could have easily had all 12 points. That is how close it is and we keep emphasising that to the players. We have a good team and a good squad - just keep proving it.

“It is ironic that I don't think we were brilliant at home to Northampton and we battled at Hartlepool and got four points from those games, but I think in terms of football the last two performances have been better than those and we got no points.”

Clough said the costly errors happened at all levels of the game.

“Other teams make mistakes too, but it's just whether you get away with it or not,” he said.

“You just have these runs where it seems every little mistake you make ends up in a goal.

“We just have to concentrate on not making those errors. And it's the timings as well, we really have to concentrate leading up to half-time and just after half-time even more. It's about intelligence and character.

“But players do make mistakes. I saw Aston Villa in the 88th minute at home to Stevenage in the FA Cup make one and get caught.

“You watch every Premier League game and they are giving it away playing out from the back. You saw Liverpool's goalkeeper give one away against Wolves when he passed it straight to an opponent 15 yards away. They are humans and they make mistakes. We have just got to minimise them.

“We are not that sort of team and we don't take those sorts of risks.

“I know certain teams play out from the back no matter what. With that ethos you are going to lose the odd ball and concede goals.

“We don't have that. We tell our players to play what's on. Some teams close you down better and some don't. They have to make those decisions and they're making the wrong ones - only once or twice, but we are not getting away with it.”

On opponents Crewe, he said: “I have watched them two or three times this season and they don't half hang on in there in games.

“I watched them against Leeds in the Papa Johns and Leeds must have had 70 per cent of the game. But Crewe defended fantastically and ended up nicking it on penalties.

“They had a very good 0-0 at home on Saturday. They have some very good centre halves that keep them in games.

“I know Lee Bell (Crewe manager) from his time on loan at Burton from Crewe and him and Alex (assistant Morris) are trying to get a balance in the way they play.

“Everyone associates Crewe with this way of playing, but they are battling away in League Two and probably haven't got the players to play the way Crewe always have done. So they're trying to navigate a way through and I think they are doing very well at it.

“Lee was a great lad in the dressing room and a great competitor on the pitch. He loved winning and I think he will take that into his management and coaching career.

“Our win up there in September really set them back. I think they went about seven games after that without a win. It really knocked the stuffing out of them.

“And that's how we are a little bit at the moment. We are a bit fragile.

“You lose one and all of a sudden you're looking over your shoulder wondering are we going to lose the next one?”

Stags have only won of their last six home outings and Clough said: “Our home form has taken a big dip compared with where we were 12 months ago.

“The message is the same. We are doing the same things and have the same principles. We are concentrating on the same things in training that we were 12 months ago when we went on that record run of home wins. So we are desperately trying to get back to that.

“It was as big a disappointment as anything on Saturday in that at 2-0 up at home you have a great opportunity to get a home victory and build on the back of the point with Northampton.

“The players are so desperate to do well and we look a little nervous at home at the moment. They have to take that out of it and just concentrate on making the right decisions at the right times.”

Stephen McLaughlin is a doubt for Saturday.

“He is not training and we will have to see how he is towards Friday,” said Clough.

“He came off with an ankle injury of which we have three at the moment with Lucas Akins and Kieran Wallace as well. One was a block tackle, one was a kick and one was a twist.

“I would say he is 50-50 at the moment. Of the three, Kieran Wallace has probably got the best chance, but we're hopeful.

“You hope they improve over the next two or three days enough to train on Friday morning. If not we are always wary of having them involved on a Saturday.”

Stags are ninth and out the play-off spots but only a single point off fourth.

“The top three are pretty set at the moment and they are strong and as confident as anyone in the league,” said Clough.

“But there are only a few points between the other sides and I think it's brilliant for the competition side of it and the excitement side as everyone is in with a chance and this is what the play-offs were brought in for - going into the second half of the season so many teams are still in contention.”

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Hewitt determined to play big part in remainder of season
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 10 Jan 2023

Defender Elliott Hewitt says he was ‘very happy’ to be named as Stags’ Player of the Year for 2022 and is determined to play a significant part in Mansfield’s remaining 21 games of the campaign.

The 28-year-old, formerly of Grimsby Town, has been a consistent performer this season.

Hewitt, who can be utilised at both centre-back and right-back, won the Player of the Month awards for both October and November, along with the 2022 accolade.

And when asked of his reaction at a news conference today, a modest Hewitt said: “I’m obviously very happy, I think a lot of players could’ve got it.

“There's a lot of people that have been playing well but I just seem to be in the team quite a bit so maybe that has gone in my favour.

https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2023/january/hewitt-determined-to-play-big-part-in-remainder-of-season/

“I think I’ve been doing all right. It’s not been amazing but just consistently six [or] seven out of 10 every week [as an individual performance rating]. Fans seem to be enjoying it and if they see that you're working hard then it's all you can do.

”Ahead of Saturday’s visit of Crewe to One Call Stadium, Hewitt assessed the Stags’ current form.

“Very up and down,” he said. “A bit inconsistent but we’re still in with a chance [of getting into the top seven] as there’s still a long way to go. Hopefully we can start picking up points now.

“We’ve played well in a lot of games. We’ve also shown a side where we’ve not played well and picked up points.

“There's also the down side where we’ve not picked up points and played quite well. We’ve conceded a few late goals as well.”

Stags currently sit in ninth position in Sky Bet League Two, level on points with Salford, who occupy the final play-off position.

And Hewitt wants the team to tighten up, as they aim to propel up the table.

“We’re obviously conceding too many goals. I wouldn't say anyone is carving us wide open. I can’t remember how many shots they had on Saturday [at home to Barrow] but it seems like every single thing is going in at the minute.

“Every goal that goes in Pymy [Christy Pym] has no chance with as well so we just need to stop letting teams have one chance because that's all it’s taking at the minute.”

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Elliott Hewitt still believes Mansfield Town can achieve promotion dream
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 10 Jan 2023

Elliott Hewitt, voted Mansfield Town Player of the Year for 2022, believes Stags can still achieve promotion glory this season.

Outside the play-offs at the moment but a single point off fourth, he said: “We have been a bit inconsistent.

“But we are still in with a chance and there is a long way to go. We just need to pick up a bit of form and get our injured players back.

“League Two is a very good competition this year and everyone has good squads - even below us there are some very good teams.

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/elliott-hewitt-still-believes-mansfield-town-can-achieve-promotion-dream-3983174

“We have played well in a lot of games and also shown we can pick up points when we haven't played well.

“We are just conceding too many goals. But no one is carving us wide open or anything. It just seems like every shot is going in against us at the minute.

“I can't remember sides hitting the post or crossbar against us.

“And every goal going in, Pymy (keeper Christy Pym) has had no chance with either.

“We need to stop teams having even one chance as that's all it's taking at the minute.

“We need to stay on the front foot as we won't face as many attacks then.”

Hewitt believes consistency is what has given him the fans' award for 2022.

“I have not been amazing but maybe six or seven out of 10 every week and fans seem to be enjoying it. If they see you're working hard, that's all you can do,” he said.

“I am never going to be a nine or 10 out of 10 player every week. Playing consistently six or seven out of 10 every week keeps you in the team and in a job.

“It is good getting game time and keeping my place in the team. There is a lot of healthy competition which keeps you on your toes. If you make one slip up you have players like JJ (O'Toole) on the bench.

“The standard in training every day is unbelievable. As players we need to take that into games more. We train every week with the best squad of players in League Two and we keep pushing each other.”

Hewitt has played both full back and centre half this season and said: “I have no preference as long as it's at the back. I played quite a bit of my career in midfield but I don't think I am good enough to play in there. I enjoy playing at the back.”

Stags came from behind to win 2-1 away at Saturday's visitors Crewe Alexandra earlier in the season and Hewitt said: “We were 1-0 down and scored two late goals to win it and I cleared one off the line late on as well. It was a good game. I hope it's not as late as that this time.

“They have a new manager in charge and I don't know if they play as much football as they used to.

“I imagine they will be a good, technical footballing side. But I think they can do the other side of the game a bit better now.”

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Bell on Mansfield test; Clough respect
https://www.crewealex.net/news/2023/january/bell-on-mansfield-test-clough-respect/

Lee Bell says his Crewe Alexandra side will be going all out to take three points from one of the men he respects most in football, when they visit Nigel Clough’s Mansfield Town.

The former midfielder twice played under Clough at Burton Albion, and he revealed the Stags boss has been generous with support and advice in recent weeks.

But Bell, who was appointed as permanent Crewe boss in December, says at 3pm on Saturday it will be all about the points at stake,

He said: “Nigel was brilliant to me when I was younger, I played for him twice and he’s an absolutely brilliant fella.

“And he’s been good to me since I’ve been in the job - I’m looking forward to seeing him.

“He’s said he’s always at the end of a phone for me, and likewise with other managers I’ve worked for - they've been great and there’s been loads of encouragement.

“But as soon as the whistle goes we’ll be looking to get three points against a really good, experienced Mansfield team. We’re excited for the game, but it will be tough.”

Two late goals earned Mansfield all three points at Mornflake Stadium earlier this season, after Courtney Baker-Richardson had given The Railwaymen the lead.

The Alex will be aiming to avenge that defeat and add to the two wins on the road they have managed so far this term.

Bell added: “Our away record over recent times hasn’t been great, and that’s something we want to put right. It’s down to us to put the team into a shape and with the right tactics that we feel can get a result.”

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