CLOUGH INJURY UPDATE / DANNY JOHNSON INTERVIEW
Boss provides injury update
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 7 Feb 2023
Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough provided an injury update ahead of this weekend’s hotly anticipated encounter at home to Gillingham.
The Stags earned a much-deserved point on Saturday at Bradford against the odds after three players were forced off in the first-half due to injury.
Midfielder Louis Reed, striker Rhys Oates and defender Callum Johnson had to be replaced, but despite the unforeseen changes, Stags rallied to come from behind and earn a draw courtesy of Alfie Kilgour’s stoppage-time header.
Speaking to iFollow Stags in a news conference this morning, Nigel said: “[Louis Reed] had a scan [and] he’s damaged his medial ligament. It’s one of those, it’s not as bad as it could’ve been but also, it’s not brilliant. We’re thinking around the six week mark [for which he will be sidelined] which is a blow for him and us.
“[Rhys Oates’] shoulder came out. It’s not the pectoral muscle he had [injured] last time, it’s a shoulder injury now that needs time to settle down. Probably around [the same amount of time out injured as Louis Reed], six weeks.
“[Callum Johnson] has got a routine groin strain. We are talking maybe four weeks [out] with him.
“[Stephen McLaughlin] is likely to return at a similar time to Callum Johnson.
“[Christy Pym] has done a little bit of work again, he’s not far off, we’ll just see how it goes this week with training but he’s got a chance of at least being on the bench [against Gillingham on Saturday].
“[Hiram Boateng] should be [available]. He was pretty close on Saturday. It just worried us a little [bit] with the nature of the injury. Friday, he trained, but we just didn’t want to risk him.
“To go into Saturday’s game already without [Christy] Pym, [Stephen] McLaughlin, [Hiram] Boateng and [Anthony] Hartigan, to then lose three more [players with injury] in the first-half was [disappointing].”
Former players Oli Hawkins and George Lapslie are set to travel to One Call Stadium for Gillingham this Saturday as Mansfield look to build on their recent good form.
Speaking on this weekend’s opposition, the manager said: “It’s been a great turn around [for the Gills].
“They’ve brought some new players in as we know with two of them (Oli Hawkins and George Lapslie) [signing] from us in January. I think they’re now building up ahead of steam and confidence for the rest of the season.
“I think they will [beat the drop] but it’s very tight down the bottom.
“Oli Hawkins will be a threat from set plays and George Lapslie if he plays or comes on will have to be tracked.”
Key players out for six weeks as Mansfield Town are rocked by triple injury blow
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 7 Feb 2023
Mansfield Town will be without some of their key players for up to six weeks after Saturday's triple injury blow in the battling 1-1 draw at Bradford City.
January newcomers Louis Reed and Callum Johnson both limped off along with goal ace Rhys Oates - only recently back from a three month lay-off - before the game had even reached half-time in a season in which Stags have been dogged by injuries.
Boss Nigel Clough said: “A scan showed Louis has damaged his medial ligament.
“It's not as bad as it could have been but also not brilliant as we think he will be around the six week mark, which is a bit of a blow for him and for us.
“It was a block tackle after about five minutes of the game - it's just one of those things in football. It was a typical football injury - a contact injury and a fair tackle from both players. He just came off the worst.
“Rhys' shoulder came out. It is not the pectoral muscle injury he had last time but it's a new injury that needs time to settle down and will probably be about the same six weeks, providing there are no setbacks.
“Rhys did actually foul the lad and you have to have a bit more nous not to go into those challenges, especially when you have had the sort of injuries he has had.
“There was nothing to be gained from going into it. You can only come off worse for wear as he did.
“As the ball bounced I think he was thinking if I win it first I am away. They came together but their lad won the ball first and Rhys went into him. Their lad was set, so physically you have a fair chance of injury from that sort of challenge.
“Their lad did nothing wrong and Rhys needs to think about it a bit more.
“Callum has more of a routine groin strain so we are talking maybe four weeks for him.”
He added: “It has been like this most of the season - sometimes you just have seasons where this happens. Ours has been littered with it from pre-season.
“We went into last Saturday's game already without Christy Pym, Hiram Boateng, Stephen McLaughlin and Anthony Hartigan only to lost three more in the first half.
“I think that is why there was that jubilance after the game after our late equaliser - it was borne out of the circumstances as much as anything.
“It was a fair result in the end and two good teams going at it in front of a great crowd.
“It felt like more than a point - not in terms of the league table but in terms of confidence. It also highlighted the strength of our squad.”
On the other injuries ahead if Saturday's visit of Gillingham, Clough said: “Stephen McLaughlin is a similar time to Callum Johnson.
“Christy Pym has a chance - he is doing some handling work. He is not far off and we will see how he goes in training. He could at least be on the bench.
“If he is fully fit he will start. But if he isn't I have no problem at all - Scott Flinders will continue in goal. He has been outstanding over the two games.
“Hiram was pretty close for last Saturday. He trained on Friday but we just didn't want to risk him at this stage of the season.
“Losing players like we are for four to six weeks we can't afford to lose anyone else.”
Clough admitted the latest injuries may force his hand on formations for Saturday.
“We have been playing three at the back, but with the lack of wing backs available now we may have to go back to a back four and see who is around,” he said.
“We have lost Rhys. But we have good forward options as you saw with Danny Johnson and Will Swan coming on plus Lucas Akins and Jordan Bowery. And I thought David Keillor-Dunn was very bright and lively on his debut.
“John-Joe O'Toole going out on loan is still a possibility, but not at the moment with the injuries we picked up on Saturday.
“I think he will be back in the 18 on Saturday. Hopefully Jason Law and Hiram Boateng will be fit so it will be those three in for the three that were injured.”
With Stags forced into three substitutions before half-time and therefore unable to make any after the break, Clough said the rules should change.
“I think the rule is intended to be for the right reasons,” he said.
“You get five substitutions and what they didn't want was to have five individual substitutions made in the last 10 minutes to break up a game and have it stop-start all the time.
“So they made it on three occasions with half-time not counting, which is brilliant.
“But no one uses subs like that in the first as no one is wasting time - first half subs are genuine substitutions for injury or tactical.
“Therefore you should still be allowed to make second half substitutions if you have had to use two or three in the first half.
“You could end up with nine men through no fault of your own.
“I agree with the premise of it but it needs a bit more flexibility.”
Clough on Lewis Page:
"he's still training with us, we'll try and get him up to speed and take it from there."
New-look strugglers Gillingham revitalised and on the up ahead of visit to Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 7 Feb 2023
Mansfield Town face a tough home test to revitalised Gillingham - and some very familiar faces on Saturday.
The Gills' January spending spree - which included Stags pair Oli Hawkins and George Lapslie among the 10 new faces - has helped them win three and draw one of their last four games to put them a single point away from getting out of the relegation zone.
They have also brought in former boss Andy Hessenthaler and Kenny Jackett have joined the Gills as Head of Recruitment and Director of Football respectively.
“It's been a great turnaround. They have brought some very good players in - as we know two of them from us - in January and look a different team,” said Stags boss Nigel Clough.
“They are now building up a little head of steam and confidence for the rest of the season.
“I think everyone was surprised they were down there first of all. But that can happen when things go against you and it's how you react. I think in January they have reacted incredibly well.”
The eight goals Gills have scored in their last four games is more than Neil Harris' men had previously netted all season.
“If that doesn't underline their threat then nothing does. It is an incredible stat and just shows how a season can turn,” said Clough.
“We talk about how fragile things can be. You can be winning a few then all of a sudden lose one and you then lose a few. It can be the same the other way round. You can have a rough first half of the season, get a couple of results then don't look back.
“We know that from last season. We went 14 without a win then all of a sudden we went on a record-breaking run.”
He added: “You bring four or five players in and it can change your season and have such a positive impact.
“We certainly know Oli Hawkins and George Lapslie can add to that.
“We know they are both good players and Oli is a threat from every set play. I don't think the lads will need reminding of that.
“People forget how good he is on the floor too. Some of his goals were good finishes from the floor, not just headers.
“And George Lapslie, if he plays or comes on, his runs into the penalty area have to be tracked. They are a major threat,
“Once you get that first win it's amazing how the mood changes.”
Stags managed to net a six figure fee for Hawkins and Lapslie that could rise.
“I think they will stay up and, as a club, we have a few quid riding on it tto,” smiled Clough.
“We get a bit more on the fee for the players we sold them if they stay up which would be nice.
“But it is very tight down the bottom. Everyone is petrified of being relegated - and rightly so. It's not just being relegated.
“Look at the sides that went down last season - Oldham and Scunthorpe. There is a chance of them going into the Conference North.
“Oldham are ex-Premier League and Scunthorpe played in the Championship.
“It just shows how dangerous it is when you're down there.
“We have watched a couple of Gillingham's recent games and they are playing with a lot more confidence than they were a few weeks ago.”
Rhys Oates, Callum Johnson and Louis Reed join Stephen McLaughlin and Anthony Hartigan on the injured list from last weekend's 1-1 draw at Bradford City.
But Stags are hopeful they may get Hiram Boateng, Jason Law and Christy Pym fit in time for the weekend.
Left back free agent Lewis Page is not yet fit but could still win a contract when he is.
“Lewis is still training with us and trying to get up to speed, then will see from there,” said Clough.
Nigel Clough: Mansfield Town boss calls for greater 'flexibility' with substitutions
Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough says greater "flexibility" is needed with substitutions after first-half injuries at Bradford left them in difficulty.
Clough used his three opportunities to make in-game changes before the break, with Louis Reed, Rhys Oates and Callum Johnson all forced off hurt.
The only changes Clough could make after that were permitted at half-time, leaving him frustrated.
"There should be a little bit of protection," Clough said.
"If you can use the five substitutes, there just needs to be a little more flexibility."
Reed was lost to a knee injury early on, with Oates then forced off with a dislocated shoulder before Johnson suffered a groin injury. The trio are expected to be out for between four and six weeks.
With no window of opportunity to make changes after the break, Clough had to act early to replace Stephen Quinn and Kieran Wallace, who the Stags boss said were not likely to last another 45 minutes.
Despite the number of forced reshuffles, Mansfield fought back to rescue a point, with an injury-time goal from Alfie Kilgour earning them a 1-1 draw.
"That's why I thought it was so encouraging in the second half," Clough told BBC Radio Nottingham.
"With Quinny and Kieran Wallace, we had to make those changes really otherwise we'd have had no chance to make substitutions, so it would have been nine players going into the second half 1-0 down in front of 19,000 people."
Clough said the situation the Stags found themselves in at Bradford highlighted the problem with the substitution rule.
"The rule is intended for the right reasons," Clough said. "You get five substitutions, but what they didn't want was five to happen in the final 10 minutes of a game so you could break up the game and make it stop, start.
"So they made it three occasions with half-time not counting, which is brilliant. But what if you have to use them in the first half? No-one is using substitutions in the first half to time waste - they are genuine substitutions or tactical.
"Therefore you should still be allowed to make substitutions in the second half - almost restart it again and have two in the second half if you have had to use two or three in the first half.
"You could lose two [players to injury] in the second half and go down to nine men out of no fault of your own. It's just genuinely something that can happen in football."
I want to contribute to success here - DJ
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 7 Feb 2023
Mansfield Town striker Danny Johnson says he’s aiming to prove he can ‘score goals here and work as hard as I can for the manager’ following his return to the club.
The 29-year-old netted 15 times in 30 appearances in the first-half of the season on loan at Walsall and is now looking to contribute to a successful finale to the 2022/23 campaign back at his parent club.
Danny played 45 minutes away at Bradford on Saturday, helping the Stags come from a goal down to draw late on at the University of Bradford Stadium.
Speaking to iFollow Stags in a news conference at RH Academy this morning, the frontman said: “We’ve got to all come together and get the results.
“I’ve got to fit back into the way that they’ve [the squad] been playing this season.
“[I want to] Get back in the team [and] prove that I can score goals here and work as hard as I can for the manager.”
The former Leyton Orient man says he’s settled well back into the group.
“It’s like I’ve never been away really,” he said.
“I’ve come back in, and the lads have been fine and I’ve just joined in training as usual.
“It’s been a good one [season] so far in my time at Walsall. I’ve really enjoyed playing and scoring goals.
“I’m glad it [the transfer window] is over and I can concentrate on my football now.”
The striker looked lively away at Bradford on Saturday - having a few half-chances to score his first Stags’ goal since bagging a hat-trick at home to Newcastle U21 in November 2021.
“I thought once we made the three subs [at three separate intervals], that I wasn’t sure if we could make another one, but when I got told I was going on I was delighted to get out there, show what I can do and run and work hard for the team.
“I could’ve had a few [goals] to be honest. There was a long throw-in and I’ve not quite got away from the defender. There was one that was cleared off the line and there was another chance that I could have probably got to.
“The ball is going to drop and I’m going to get there eventually.
“I was maybe half a yard off [scoring] but he’s [the Bradford defender] done brilliant to get that away. I don’t know how he’s got it.”
On his targets for the rest of the season, Danny said: “Get back in the team [and] get starting.
“I think I have put myself in good stead at the weekend with my performance and we’ll see where that goes.
“Hopefully, I’ll get a few more goals before the end of the season and [we’ll] get in the play-offs.
“Every year, a goalscorer wants to finish the season as top goalscorer and obviously being on loan at Walsall I wasn’t able to play two games against Mansfield, so I’ve missed out on two games.
“I have missed out on a few games at Walsall with games being called off [too].
“I know Mansfield have played more games [than Walsall this season]. I’m up against it really to catch them [other Sky Bet League Two scorers] back up now but I back myself.
“Hopefully I’ll be up there come the end of the season.”
On his relationship with boss Nigel Clough, the goalscorer said: “[It’s] Absolutely fine.
“Some people say ‘oh you’ve fallen out with him’ but if you look at it last year, everything was up against me.
“[My] Injury, the way the team were playing [with Danny out injured], you can’t do anything about that, that’s football some times.”
Returning Mansfield Town striker Danny Johnson aiming to prove a point and dismisses claims he is unhappy
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 7 Feb 2023
Mansfield Town striker Danny Johnson insists he is happy to be back at the club and simply wants to now prove a point by scoring goals to fire Stags to promotion.
He also denies claims he fell out with boss Nigel Clough or deliberately avoided celebrating Stags' equaliser with the other players on Saturday.
Johnson struggled to get a place last season when suffering an injury on the verge of a run of success for the side in his absence, but this season hit 15 goals in 30 games on loan at Walsall.
However, the expected January move to Walsall did not materialise as the Saddlers failed to match Stags' valuation.
Some fans claim Johnson no longer wants to play for the club but he said: “I am pleased to be back and it feels like I have never been away really.
“I have come back in and the lads have been fine and I have just joined in training as usual. It is a clean slate and I just want to crack on.
“It's been a good season so far, scoring 15 goals at Walsall. I have really enjoyed playing and scoring goals.
“It just clicked for me there. When you look back I was scoring goals for Orient in this league and I have full belief I can score goals in this league.
“I am happy to be back here. I am a footballer and I just want to play football. I live locally and I am contracted at the club.
“There was no problem before. I just needed to go and play games which I have done. I have proved my point and now come back.”
He added: “My relationship with the manager is absolutely fine.
“I know some people say I have fallen out with him. But if you look at last year, everything was up against me, the injury and the way the team were paying. You can't do anything about that - that is football sometimes.
“It was probably the most frustrating season of my career. I was doing runs on Sunday mornings making sure I was fit in case my time came. I was professional about it. But the team was doing so well.”
On Saturday Johnson was tying up his boot laces while Stags celebrated Alfie Kilgour's equaliser. But he hit back at suggestions by fans on social media that he was avoiding his team mates.
“My friends sent me a few screen shots on it and it has been blown out of proportion completely,” he said.
“It is complete nonsense, but if people want to keep making up theories then crack on. It is irrelevant to me.
“When Alfie scored I thought he was just going to do a quick loop and run straight back to the halfway line to get on with it.
“I had just got round the defender who stood on my foot and pulled all my laces completely tight. I knew I had to get them sorted straight away.
“Everyone is back at the halfway line before I have even got up from sorting my laces out. The referee has had to come over and speed me up.”
On the January speculation over his future, he said: “I am a footballer at the end of the day so it's always going to be part and parcel of the game. I am glad it's over and I can now get on with it and concentrate on my football.
“I am 30 next month so I am quite used to it. I just try to ignore it and get on with training. It is out of my hands what happens off the pitch so I just get on with my job.
“I was delighted to get out there on Saturday and show what I can do. I was given a good ovation at half-time. I want to run and work hard for the team.”
Johnson came close to scoring during his second half run-out and he said: “I could have had a few on Saturday to be honest and there was one cleared off the line that I was perhaps half a yard off.
“If the ball is going to drop I am going to get there eventually. It won't be long before I am on the end of them now I see where the ball is dropping.
“I would like to get back in the team and get started - and maybe score 15 goals here too and get in the play-offs. I think I have put myself in good stead at the weekend with my performance. We will see where that goes.”
Johnson is currently fourth in the League Two scoring charts and smiled: “Every goalscorer wants to finish to scorer.
“Obviously being at Walsall I wasn't able to play in the two games against Mansfield so I have missed out on two games. And I have missed out on a few games there that were called off while Mansfield have played more games this season, so I am up against it trying to catch them up.
“But I back myself and hopefully I will be up there at the end of the season.
“If you look back at last season I was very unfortunate when I got injured as we were on a bad run before that, though I had scored a few goals.
“After I was injured the team went on a fantastic run and got in the play-offs. Sometimes that happens in football.
“But I have come back now and I think I have a point to prove - I want to prove I can score goals here and hopefully get us over the promotion line this time.
“My first target is getting back into the team and then proving I can score goals here. I believe I can score goals in every game in this league and if I don't score I am very disappointed with myself.”
He added: “The squad depth here for this league is really good. I have to fit back in to the way they have been playing this season, it's not just me coming back and how can they fit me in? I have to try to help them out as well.”
On Saturday's visitors Gillingham, Johnson said: “They have made quite a few signings and been taken over. They will be well up for it to get out of that relegation battle.”
Mansfield Town v Gillingham preview: Manager Neil Harris looks ahead to League 2 match with Oli Hawkins and George Lapslie set to face former team; Tom Nichols an injury doubt
kentonline.co.uk, by Luke Cawdell
Gillingham manager Neil Harris expects his new-look team to give Mansfield Town a sterner challenge when they meet for the second time this season on Saturday.
The Gills were booed off at Priestfield as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat against The Stags in September.
With new faces in the Gills side - including Oli Hawkins and George Lapslie who played their part for Mansfield in a win that day - Harris is confident they won’t be such pushovers this time around.
“My team will be completely different,” Harris said. “We will be a completely different proposition for Mansfield to deal with.
“We know Mansfield have a squad put together over a few years, some good experience at the level, some good players, goal threats, they can play forward and run forward but also build the play as well.
“Nigel Clough (the Mansfield manager) is an extremely experienced manager and we know it will be a real test for us, every bit as strong a test as the last four games, Swindon in particular away from home.
“We look forward to it with a great deal of confidence and whatever team they play, they will be confident after picking up four points from two games. It is another challenge.”
Lapslie scored and won a penalty in that win against the Gills while Hawkins - who operates upfront for Gills - was playing centre-half and helped his old side Mansfield to a clean sheet.
Hawkins has been a regular starter for the Gills since signing but Lapslie has had to make do with appearances from the bench. His time will come, however.
Harris said: “He understands, he has had a few issues, he’s been unwell and he had a groin issue last week. It would have been an ideal scenario not to have included him Saturday, coming on the pitch, but it was a case of needs must.
“He has settled great, the lads really like him and he’s a great human being, again another sort of character that we want at this football club.
“He fits the mould of what Gillingham is all about, and he is a first team player at this level and above, he has been patient because he understands, that‘s football, when the team is picking up points and playing well he has had to be patient, but he wants to play and I am fully aware of that.”
The Gills paid their League 2 rivals Mansfield money for Lapslie and Hawkins, a fee that will increase if Harris’ men avoid relegation.
Harris is certainly a lot more confident of that happening now he has quality additions in his side. A fan vote prior to the January window on the KentOnline website had fans split 50-50 on whether they thought the club would survive the drop. That changed to 97% by the end of a productive month of shopping.
The Gills manager admits he felt the same.
He said: “We had scored seven goals in 23 games, I can’t lie, I wasn’t confident at all but a lot more confident now, 10 points in four games, it’s a great start.
“I look at my players, my team, the squad, and that gives me belief and confidence in the group moving forward but we just have to keep moving forward.
“We are not going to be unbeaten for the rest of the season, we are going to lose games of football, we are going to lose players through injury and illness and it is how we respond to those negatives.
“For us it is about making sure that come May 8 we are above that dotted line, rather than below it. Getting away from that danger area as soon as possible is key to us but at the moment we are rolling with the wave and the feel-good factor and we just can’t wait for Saturday.”
Not that there is much focus on the league table from within the Gills. Harris’ men are one point from escaping the drop zone.
“We are in a great place, everyone can see that,” the Gills boss said. “I don’t think the changing room takes a huge amount of notice of the league table, I have to be honest, the lads don’t talk about it and we don’t talk about it in the office.
“Yes, of course it is important come May 8 and I suppose it is important today, but the feel-good factor is so high that we are just rolling from game to game anyway.
“What we have at the moment is a team playing full of confidence, a team preparing brilliantly and diligently for games and really tuned into what we need to do and really looking forward to the next moment.”
Tom Nichols is a weekend doubt. He went down with cramp on Saturday but was taken off shortly after and has missed training in the week. Hawkins should be okay to have shaken off a rib injury.
Harris said: “When a player comes off in a game it is never a good sign for the next one."
Latest | February 2023