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22nd January 2023 18:17

We need to turn performances into points - boss
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 17 Jan 2023

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough has called for Stags to ‘start converting performances into points’ ahead of a much-anticipated fixture away at third place Northampton Town this Saturday.

Mansfield are currently seven points off the Cobblers following after gaining a point from the opening three matches in 2023 - a frustration for the gaffer who feels his side have performed well.

Despite a sequence of indifferent results, Stags have 20 matches to make ground on the automatic promotion places as the club aim for a second successive top seven finish in Sky Bet League Two.


Speaking in a news conference at RH Academy this morning, Nigel said: “It’s incredible. What are we seven points behind them [Northampton]?

“When you think of the run we’ve had and we’re still only seven points off third place.

“We’re just outside the play-offs and it shows you just how tight it [the league] is.

“It’s a huge regret that we’ve missed an opportunity [to get closer to the top three] but we’ve still got 20 games left - 60 points to play for.

“We’re still not far off and we’ve got to start converting our performances into points. That’s the biggest thing.”

Stags could be joined at Sixfields Stadium by new signing Louis Reed from Swindon. A midfielder the manager was eager to recruit.

“He’s somebody that we knew from Sheffield United many years ago,” he said.

“We gave him his debut against Rotherham at 16-years-old and we always liked him.

“He played against Spurs in a semi-final of the League Cup, and we just think he’s a good player.

“He’s gone on since then and played a lot of games for Swindon - I think he’s played about 250 games now [in total] and he’s only 25. We just think he’s very very good in that position.

“We’ve kept an eye on him and chased him over the last year or two and not quite been able to get him but [we’re] delighted we finally have.

“A bit of upheaval at Swindon and all of a sudden, we got a call to say he might be available.

“We paid a small fee and are thrilled and excited by his signing.”

On further additions, Nigel said: “There’s another one that we’ve made strong enquiries for. It’s not looking very likely at this stage.

“The player [in question] is under contract and it would be a fee [involved].

“I’m not sure that will be achievable this window, but we’ve got Danny Johnson back in the building now with us and as far as we’re concerned, he’s back and available for selection on Saturday.

“If something happens prior to that or after that then we’ll look at it but as far as we’re concerned no deal has been done with any other club. He’s back and he’s scoring goals and hopefully he can do that for us.”

When asked about the situation surrounding forward Danny Johnson, the boss went into further detail.

“[In terms of] Enquiries, [we’ve had] quite a few. I would say something like five or six,” said the gaffer.

“We’ve had a couple of bids; nothing meets the valuation but we’re very happy to have Danny back. It’s not a problem for us to have him back in and involved.

“The only slight problem we have in the next two weeks is the three club rule which if he plays for us, or just appears on the pitch then he can only play for us or Walsall for the rest of the season. That rules out anybody coming in and buying him in the next week or so.

“If we reach the decision that Danny is going nowhere, and he’s happy with that as well, that he’s going to help us try and get promoted in the second-half of the season then that becomes irrelevant anyway.

“I think one [bid] was accepted but Danny didn’t want to go to that particular club. You’ve got to look at all angles. The player has got to want to go, the clubs have got to agree and if any one of those three parties can’t make it work then it breaks down.”

The boss also provided an injury update.

“They’re [the injured players] out on the grass which is good and off dog-walking duties for a while.

“Ollie [Clarke] is back on the grass, Lucas [Akins] is. There’s a chance of Lucas training on Friday with a view to being involved on Saturday - probably an outside chance at the moment.

“Ollie Clarke is scheduled hopefully to train next week.”


Mansfield Town to holds talks over future of in-form Danny Johnson after return from Walsall loan
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 17 Jan 2023

Danny Johnson's future with Mansfield Town should be clearer over the next week after the striker returned from a hugely successful half-season loan spell with League Two rivals Walsall, who would still like to buy him.

He could even be involved in Stags' tough trip to Northampton Town on Saturday, but boss Nigel Clough said, with players only allowed to play for two clubs per season, he did not want to hamper any possible bids from elsewhere or restrict Johnson's options so may wait another week.

Johnson, out of contact this summer, has netted 15 goals for the Saddlers at a rate of almost one every two games and Clough said: “We have Danny back in the building now with us and as far as we're concerned he is available for Saturday.

“If something happens prior to that or after that we will look at it. But as far as we're concerned no deal has been done with any other club and he is scoring goals - hopefully he can do that for us.


“We have had five or six enquiries for him and a couple of firm bids.

“One of them was accepted but Danny did not want to go to that particular club. You have to look at it from all angles.

“The player has to want to go and the two clubs have got to agree. If any one of those three parties can't make it work then it breaks down.

“Walsall have made a bid but at this moment it is not up the valuation.

“But it's more about whether we want to keep Danny for the rest of the season. We are under no pressure to sell. The owners have been clear and brilliant about that.

“We're very happy to have Danny back. It's not a problem for us to get him back in and involved.”

He added: “The only slight problem we have in the next two weeks is the three club rule which, if he plays for us on Saturday or appears on the pitch, then he can only play for us or Walsall for the rest of this season.

“That rules out anyone coming in and buying him in the last week or so. I don't like the rule - I think it is prohibitive on players and clubs doing business. It is a very poor rule.

“But if we reach a decision that he is going nowhere and Danny is happy that he is going to help us try to get promoted in the second half of the season then that becomes irrelevant anyway.

“We will have a chat this week with David (CEO Sharpe), the owners and Danny himself and judge it.

“It might be we hold him back for a game on Saturday and it all becomes clearer the week after as I don't want to reduce the club's options or anyone's options for the sake of one game.

“After Saturday he would still be available for the 19 games that are left, so that one game won't make a great deal of difference.”

Clough believes Johnson is happy to try his luck with Stags once more and admitted that, had he known Rhys Oates would be out for three months injured, would never have let him go.

“I would like to keep him as he is another striker,” said Clough.

“What you can't guarantee any player is 20 games to the end of the season. But to have another striker who is in form and scoring goals, you won't let that go easily.

“If he comes to us and says I have really enjoyed it at Walsall and that's where I want to be then it's a different ball game. But he's not said that.

“We get on well with his agent and he has intimated that Danny is quite happy to stay here for the rest of the season. I think he just wants to get on the pitch and score goals and if we can use him for that then we will do it.

“We had four strikers, but we lost Oatesy for three months the week after we let Danny go. If that had happened the week before Danny would not have gone anywhere. So he was never that far away.

“He is one of our highest paid players so we didn't think it fair for the owners to be paying that sort of money if he wasn't going to be involved regularly or starting.

“We always knew he would score goals. He has done that throughout his career, but sometimes the way we play we weren't quite as fitting as we'd hoped in that way.

“When we brought him in we envisaged him being in a two up front with Oli Hawkins, but within a few weeks of that Oli had to go back to centre half with injuries and other circumstances.

“So we never got the chance to really develop that partnership either. That worked against Danny as well.”

Clough continued: “He trained with us yesterday and it was just as if he'd never been away. Some of the link-up play wasn't ideal at times, then he gets half a yard in the box and puts one in the bottom corner.

“Generally he doesn't get involved too much in build-up play but if one drops in the penalty area he is generally as likely to finish it as anyone else.

“We play a slightly different style to Walsall. At times we only play the one central striker with two wide. Walsall usually play a pair. Danny can only play as a central striker. He can't play in a 4-3-3 in one of the wide positions - he has to play down the middle of the pitch.

“He will play 45 minutes in a friendly at Barnsley just to reintegrate him. Most of the lads are playing 45 minutes and 90 for those who need it.”


Gillingham joint deal for Mansfield Town stars too good to turn down
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 17 Jan 2023

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough said he could not stand in the way of the huge offers that big-spending strugglers Gillingham made to buy his key players George Lapslie and Oli Hawkins this week.

The Gills are throwing money at an EFL survival bid and, even though the pair were in contract until the summer, Stags let them go for a combined deal that could net over £100,000 and then quickly moved to bring in three quality players.

“We made George Lapslie a couple of what we thought were very good contract offers that his representative turned down,” said Clough.

“Then we received this joint offer from Gillingham for Oli Hawkins and George Lapslie which I believe will rise to six figures if Gillingham stay in the league.


“They both had four or five months left on their contract and I don't think either of them really wanted to leave. But we have to look at it all ways round.

“From the lads' points of view, the financial packages that were put on the table were significantly more than we could get to - and we think we are good payers.

“Oli is coming up to 31 and he has got an unbelievable deal for two and a half years. So for the security of himself and his family it was too good to turn down.

“We have to recognise and respect that. We couldn't offer him a two and a half year deal on that, despite us being one of the best payers in the league.”

He added: “Money does talk and Colchester and Gillingham have changed the landscape of the January transfer window to a large degree with the sort of deals they are offering.

“They're paying big fees and also matching that with big wages in an effort to avoid going out of the league. It is so tight down there as it is at the top.

“Owners of clubs are no daft and they will look at the two clubs who went down last season and Scunthorpe are now bottom of the National League and Oldham are down there as well.

“It's not just about dropping out the league. It is what are you chances of getting back in?

“You look at Wrexham and talk about changing landscapes with pay. Notts and Chesterfield are paying good money - more than many League Two clubs. So it's very difficult when you drop out of the league and they're doing all they can to stay in it.”

With Louis Reed, Callum Johnson and Alfie Gilgour signed so far, Clough said there could still be a couple more incoming.

“There is another one we've made strong enquiries for though it's not looking very likely at this stage,” he said.

“Once again the player is under contract and it would be a fee. I am not sure that will achievable in this window.

“A lot depends on Danny Johnson. If he stays with us then the attacking player we have bid for may not happen. It may not happen anyway.

“But there is always a little space open. We have two loan spaces left. So if there is a young 'wild card' out there then we'd look at them.”

On back-up for left back Stephen McLaughlin, he added: “Elliot Hewitt can go over there and Keiran Wallace can do it as well, so I think we're quite well covered.

“Lewis Page is still getting fit with us so if he gets fit we may revisit that one.”


New Mansfield Town signing Louis Reed from Swindon Town is like a ‘young John McGovern’ says boss Nigel Clough
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 17 Jan 2023

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough admitted he was excited by reuniting with midfield ace Louis Reed and likened him to a 'young John McGovern' - Forest’s legendary European Cup-winning captain.

The 25-year-old joined for an undisclosed fee from Swindon Town and Clough said: “He is someone we know from Sheffield United many years ago. We gave him his debut against Rotherham at 16 years old.

“We always liked him. He played against Spurs in the League Cup semi-final.

“He reminded us of a very young John McGovern in the way he went about his job. John was obviously far superior in everything, but like John, Louis does everything properly. He passes properly, he tackles properly.


“John would do the right thing for 90 minutes, irrespective of the score or position of the game - he was a master at it. And I think Louis Reed is in that mould.

“He is a good player and he has gone on since then to play a lot of games for Swindon. He's played about 250 games and he's only 25. He brings us know-how and experience in that position. I think he will get us started.”

On his qualities, Clough added: “He doesn't move. He stays in the middle of the pitch and does his job from there.

“He is very, very good in that position. I think he is as good as anyone in the league in that position.

“We have kept an eye on him and we chased him over the last year or two but not quite been able to get him. So I am delighted we finally have.

“There was a bit of upheaval at Swindon and all of a sudden we got a call saying he might be available. We paid a small fee and I am thrilled and excited by his signing - as I am by all three signings this week.”

Two of those were defenders and he said: “People don't tend to get excited by defenders but we know where our problems have been this season.

“We have looked at some stats and I think there are only two teams that have scored more than us in the league. So I don't think there is a great problem in terms of going forward. We are certainly creating chances.

“But there are only four teams that have conceded more than us in the league, so that doesn't like after 26 games.”


Kieran Wallace a key player in promotion push says Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 17 Jan 2023

Nigel Clough had high praise for utility player Kieran Wallace after his fine display in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Crewe and believes he will be in a key player in Mansfield Town's promotion push.

Wallace has been in and out the side since joining the club a year ago, often with injuries, but impressed as the defensive base of the midfield diamond last weekend.

“I thought Kieran did really well on Saturday, said manager Clough.

He trains extremely well and it's just about getting him consistently on the pitch. He seems to be so unlucky with injuries.


“He got a knock to the head at Hartlepool - and the tackle he went into just before half-time was fearless and he ended up getting the ankle injury which has put him out for a few games.

“But he is back now, trained well and we thought it would free George Maris up a bit, which it did as he got himself a goal in the six yard box.

“So it was good to have a look at him. He didn't quite last the whole game but I thought he did very well.”

He added: “Kieran is a very important player for us. I know he hasn't been on the pitch as much as we'd hoped, but when you look throughout your squad, people like him are worth their weight in gold.

“He can fill in three or four positions and when you put them out there you know what you're going to get from them.

“If you ask him he will say that (holding midfielder) is his position. He gets on the ball a little bit too deep at times and we want him further up the pitch, but he reads the game well and is very combative in there.

“When he gets on the ball he gets us going. I think with Anthony Hartigan missing we wanted to try George Maris a bit further forward. It's a good option for us. But of course now Louis Reed has come in and that is his position. So he will be vying for a place with him.

“Maris can play either side of the holding midfielder or as one of the front three we're playing at the moment.

“That was always his position when he played at Cambridge as a 10 and getting in the box and getting goals. It might give George a bit more of a licence to get forward.”


Big game as Mansfield Town head for promotion rivals Northampton Town looking to close the gap
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 17 Jan 2023

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough knows the importance of Saturday's trip to Sixfields where rivals Northampton Town are currently in the third and final automatic promotion place.

The sides drew 1-1 at the One Call Stadium on Boxing Day and both have had their recent wobbles with Stags currently seven points adrift of the Cobblers.

“I am not an avid looker at the league table - first of all it depresses me as I know where we should be,” said Clough.

“But it's incredible when you think of the run we've had that we are only seven points behind Northampton in third and just outside the play-offs. We are still in with a chance.


“It shows just how tight it is and it's a huge regret we've missed an opportunity. But we still have 20 games left and 60 points to play for.

“So we are still not far off and need to start converting our performances into points.”

He added: “It will be unbelievably tough. I think they stopped us at home as well as any team have and caused us problems themselves.

“I think it was a fair result on Boxing Day. But when you're 1-0 up in the 88th minute, no matter how you play, you should win the game.

“On their day Northampton are as good as anyone in this league.

“They have had a couple of injuries but I still think they are a major threat.”

Stags will definitely be without the suspended George Maris after electing not to appeal his red card from last weekend.

“I thought it was harsh but it was one of those - a 50-50,” said Clough.

“The assistant in front of us said straight away it was a red card and was obviously advising the referee on that.

“I don't think their lad had got the ball - I think Christy Pym would have come out and collected it. It's just one of those.

“You don't win very many appeals and, quite rightly, they back the officials whenever they can - that's what they should do.

“I think it's just one game for denying a goalscoring opportunity for George.”

Riley Harbottle and Ollie Clarke look set to miss out with injury while hopes are higher of Rhys Oates (ankle), Kellan Gordon (groin) and Jason Law (ankle).

Lucas Akins has an outside chance if he trains on Friday and looks to have shaken off his ankle problem.


Skipper encouraged by new signings
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 17 Jan 2023

Mansfield Town captain Ollie Clarke says he has been impressed by Stags’ three new signings, the 30-year-old said at a news conference on Tuesday morning.

The former Bristol Rovers man has once again linked up with new addition Alfie Kilgour following his move from the Gas for an undisclosed fee on Thursday.

Saturday’s man of the match, right-back Callum Johnson, put pen to paper on an 18-month deal on Friday, joining from Ross County.

Central-midfielder Louis Reed became Stags’ third addition of the window on Sunday morning, joining from Swindon Town.

When asked on his thoughts of the amber and blue’s business up until this point, Ollie said: “I know [Alfie from our time together at Bristol Rovers], he’s a big [and] strong boy. He likes to defend and will put his body on the line. Hopefully he can get a good run of games and show everyone what he is about. He’s an all-round athlete and you can probably see that by watching him run around in his warm-up the other day. He’ll be eager to get going.


“As soon as Alf came up and signed I went for dinner with him and made sure he was all right.

“The right-back Callum [Johnson], I’ve played against him. He’s done well, he played well on Saturday and hopefully he can build on that.

“Louis Reed is a tidy midfielder [who] gets on the ball and will keep us ticking. I’ve played against him a few times so it’s great to have him on board.”

Assessing Stags’ displays in his absence, Clarke said: “[We’ve been] a bit unfortunate at times, the goals we’re conceding probably sums up our season in that respect but we’ve been playing well [and] creating chances.

“On Saturday their [Crewe Alexandra] ‘keeper made a couple of great saves to deny us going a couple of goals ahead.

“You’ve got to take the positives. We know we aren’t where we want to be but we’re creating the chances and need to just develop that ruthless streak and put the game to bed.”

The Stags’ skipper has been sidelined with a calf injury since Mansfield’s last win, against Hartlepool, before the turn of the year.

Providing an update on his injury status, he said: “I was really enjoying my football. It’s one of those injuries that came out of nowhere. I was fit, I was feeling good and strong, I think just having a bit of an illness before Christmas was frustrating [to know there was another setback].

“It’s good, it’s getting there, I’ve been pushing on the [side of doing more] running this week and the back end of last week. I’m finally starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.

“I’ve done a lot of strength work and a lot of gym based stuff [including] plyometrics, just basically pushing the calf and trying to get it back to the capacity of being game ready really.

“I was hoping [I would be back] this Saturday but it’s looking more like Doncaster (28 January) now so I’ll be working towards that I guess.”


Skipper Ollie Clarke is helping to settle in Mansfield Town's new signings
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 17 Jan 2023

Mansfield Town skipper Ollie Clarke said it was vital to get new signings settled in as soon as possible so they can perform to their best.

Stags landed Callum Johnson, Louis Reed and Clarke's former Bristol Rovers team mate Alfie Kilgour this week and Clarke said: “You have to get them on board.

“They will know what's expected from them and what our end goal is.

“But we like to get them settled in quickly. As soon as Alfie came up and signed I went out for dinner with him and made sure he was all right in his hotel.


“Once they get settled you see the best of players, so the quicker they can do that the better and you do whatever you can to help that happen.”

He added: “The three players we have signed so far have boosted us.

“We have got Alfie in who is a big strong boy, an out and out defender who likes to defend and will put his body on the line.

“Something we've probably lacked is a proper centre half who just defends. Hopefully he can get a run of games and show everyone what he's about.

“He is an all-round athlete and eager to get going.

“I have played against Callum and he's done well. He played well on Saturday and hopefully he can build on that.

“Louis Reed is a tidy midfielder who gets on the ball and keeps us ticking. I have played against him a few times and it's great for us to have him on board.

“I think he can dictate a game.

“He has worked with the manager before so he knows what to expect. I think the way he plays will bring that calmness to our midfield and hopefully get us playing through the lines. Hopefully he can distribute some balls over the top for Oatesy (Rhys Oates) and keep us moving forward.”

Clarke's hopes of returning from a calf injury at Northampton this weekend look slim.

“I was really enjoying my football and it was one of those injuries that came out of nowhere,” he said.

“I was fit and feeling good and strong. But having a bit of an illness just before Christmas was frustrating.

“Coming back in I wanted to hit the ground running over Christmas, which is a great time of year for games and to knuckle down and get on with it.

“But these things happen and you can't do anything about it. I just reacted to the ball and as I pushed off the ground I slipped and my calf just twinged.

“I have had this problem before and tried playing through it and it probably put me out for another three or four weeks on top of what it would have done if I had come off straight away.

“When you get older you kind of learn your body and how to manage the injuries and hopefully I can come back stronger and fitter and push on.”

He added: “We know this squad is capable and we've just got to show that on a consistent basis really. We need to show that resilience to get back to winning games and put a good run together.

“We have made some good additions and no doubt they will be looking to strengthen it further.”


Brady admits 'concern' at the goals Cobblers are conceding
‘I think Sammy would expect to put one or two of those chances away.’

northamptonchron.co.uk, By James Heneghan, 18 Jan 2023

Manager Jon Brady admits the goals Cobblers have conceded recently are ‘concerning’ and something they need to eradicate to turn their fortunes around.

Town have shipped two goals in three of their last four games, and many have been avoidable. The two at Salford were especially poorly defended, as was the opener against Stockport County on Saturday.

There was an element of bad luck about County’s second as Ryan Johnson’s off target header flicked off Jack Sowerby and into the net, but Brady accepts his side need to improve defensively, particularly given their wasteful finishing at the other end, although he is hindered by the current injury problems.


"The goals we are conceding at the other end, that is concerning,” he admitted. “We have our goalkeeper out and our two main centre-halves are out and that does make a difference but we need to try and tighten up at the back.

"But the way we came out in the second-half on Saturday was really good. We talked about breaking their back-line and how to do it and it was fantastic improvisation from Mitch (Pinnock) to create the chance for Sam (Hoskins)

"It was a good connection and I'm not too sure the goalkeeper knew much about it. It just came off his shin and went wide and those are the small margins and the inches you live and die by and unfortunately it didn't go our way."

Whilst Cobblers have not played terribly in recent games, they are being punished at both ends of the pitch.

"You look at this league and it’s so tight - games are won and lost in both boxes,” Brady added. “Their manager (Dave Challinor) came out and said how outstanding those saves were from his goalkeeper.

"We probably created more chances than most teams have at their place recently and some really, really good chances as well and funnily all four of our best chances fell to our talisman.

"I think Sammy would expect to put one or two away but sometimes you have to hold up your hands and say it's really good goalkeeping and it was unfortunate for us."


Brady hopeful Cobblers' injured players won't be out for the long-term
Five players currently injured

northamptonchron.co.uk, By James Heneghan, 18 Jan 2023

Jon Brady is hopeful that Cobblers’ injured players will not be sidelined for the long-term.

Sam Sherring and Aaron McGowan have joined Tyler Magloire, Shaun McWilliams and Lee Burge in the treatment room, while captain Jon Guthrie is being monitored after missing Saturday’s game at Stockport through illness.

Brady previous said he expected McWilliams and Magloire to return before the end of the month after both sustained hamstring injuries, but it is too early to put a timeframe on Sherring and McGowan.


"We have sent Sam and Aaron for scans and we are waiting on the results,” said Brady. “We will see where we are at with those two.

"Probably about two weeks ago, we felt everything was pretty much fine with the group and we were in a good place.

"But we have played on some heavy pitches recently and the one at Salford especially looks to have taken its toll on a few bodies.

“But we feel they are not going to be long-term. A few of those players currently injured are not too far away so it’s a trade-off.”