CAMBRIDGE PREVIEWS, AJOSE OUT FOR THE SEASON
We want success ‘more than anything’
mansfieldtown.net, Thursday 04 April 2019
Stags’ boss David Flitcroft says that his charges need to want success ‘more than anything,’ as this exhilarating season approaches its final run-in.
There are just six games remaining in Sky Bet League Two for 2018-19, the first of which for Mansfield comes at home against Cambridge on Saturday, as the race for automatic promotion intensifies.
The Stags’ manager says that remaining ‘professional’ and ‘focused’ are the key ingredients to a positive end to the campaign.
“I love what I do and I love managing this club,” he said. “Over the season, we’ve been brilliant at home. I put it down to our supporters coming in and being buoyed by that and being positive.
“We’ve got a really strong fanbase. We’ll do everything we can to give our supporters that bounce and that level of football that we’ve given them for most of the season at home.
“Cambridge are fighting and needed the three points [against Bury on Tuesday night], and they showed a galvanised spirit.
“They have a top manager in Colin Calderwood, who has worked with some top players and worked for some of the best clubs in the country.
“He’s an absolute top operator and his team epitomised that on Tuesday, against arguably one of the best teams in the league at one of the most formidable places to go.
“We’re going to respect Cambridge like we respect every single opponent. We’ll put the same work into them that we did for Exeter, that’s my philosophy on respect.
“Being super professional and super focused [will get us over the line for promotion]. [We need] a desire and commitment to want it more than anything you want in life at the minute.
“We have a brilliant opportunity and are in a really good place. The group understand how important being successful is at this football club.
“It’s about keeping that focus and making sure that the players are going out prepared. We have to enjoy this and embrace it. We have to enjoy the positive movement we’ve had for over a year now.”
Last time out, the Stags recorded an emphatic 4-1 victory away to Exeter, a result that the manager says has made his players ‘bounce’ into this week.
“You have a lot of hours on the way home from Exeter,” he added. “When you get beat, it doubles the journey time because you analyse and evaluate everything that went wrong.
“But when you win in such a fashion, it makes a massive difference. You come out of that and start the week with a bounce.
“From the Crewe game, there was still a bounce on the Monday, because the lads have worked hard all season and will get things wrong.
“It’s about how me and my staff react to set the tone and the environment. If you keep driving for success, it comes.”
The manager also provided an injury update on striker Nicky Ajose - who he says is ‘probably’ out for the season with a knee problem - along with the latest on midfielders Jorge Grant and Neal Bishop and defender Ryan Sweeney.
“Nicky’s tweaked his meniscus in his knee. He’s had a scan and the injury will probably keep him out for four to six weeks.
“He needs minor surgery on it. We’ll lose Nicky now probably until the end of the season.
“It’s one of those things in football. We’ve had long term and medium term injuries. The squad has dealt with injuries really well.
“He [Grant] trained with the medical staff on Monday and Tuesday and was on the grass. We’re hoping that he’ll join us in training today [Thursday] with a chance to be involved on Saturday.
“In any football club, you have impact of injuries or suspensions, and it’s about how you deal with it.
“We’re hoping Bish is going to train today. He’s got an assessment this morning. We got him off at the right time, which is important.
“Hopefully we’ve caught it before it became an issue. We’re hoping that we’ve got him ready for the Cambridge game.
“Sweens trained on Tuesday and got his stats in that he needed to get in. So he’s definitely on the mend.”
Striker Danny Rose was included in the matchday squad on Saturday, for the first time since suffering a jaw injury away to Newport in early February.
The manager says that the forward will be able to ‘get his game time in’ over the next couple of weeks.
“Me and Danny had a chat with ten minutes to go [in the Exeter match] and the scoreline was in our favour,” said David Flitcroft.
“Danny didn’t need to go on, and I didn’t want to risk him. Each week he progresses, so it’s given him a bit more time to heal and get ready.
“Over the next couple of weeks he’ll be able to get his game time in. He’s not ready to start because he’s missed a lot of football.
“But we’ll build and make sure that we’ll get him back up to a conditioning where he’s ready to give maximum impact for however long that is.
“We did training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday [last week] and you could see him getting more confident around the players.
“I wanted him to come down with us and be a part of that trip. If we’d have needed something in the last ten, we could have put him on.”
Lastly, the manager touched on 17-year-old striker Jimmy Knowles, sharing his belief that the youngster ‘belongs’ in the first team squad.
“I’ve seen him [Knowles] a couple of times now and he belongs in the first team squad. He’ll train with us every day and deservedly so.
“He thinks like a first team player and thinks like a Mansfield Town player. He’s a good technician and he scores goals.
“I don’t believe in just giving kids anything. You earn what you get. I never, for a token gesture, just throw a kid to get involved, I don’t think it’s fair.
“They [first team players] love this kid and they know he can play in the systems that we play in.
“He’ll get things wrong, but his reaction to that is wanting to work hard and get the ball back if he gives it away.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
Season over for Mansfield Town loanee Nicky Ajose, but Stags boss stays positive
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Thursday 04 April 2019
Striker Nicky Ajose’s season looks to be over at Mansfield Town after he learned he will need a cartilage operation. Ajose has struggled for form and regular football since arriving on loan from Charlton Athletic, where his contract ends this summer. It is yet another injury blow for Stags boss David Flitcroft, but he said he looked at injuries in a positive way and saw them as an opportunity for another player, Ajose’s departure seeing teenager Jimmy Knowles promoted to the first team squad.
“Nicky has tweaked his meniscus on his knee,” said Flitcroft.
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/season-over-for-mansfield-town-loanee-nicky-ajose-but-stags-boss-stays-positive-1-9692265
“He’s had a scan at Charlton and the injury will probably keep him out four to six weeks. “It does need minor surgery on it to take a bit of the floating meniscus away, so we will probably lose Nicky now for the rest of the season.
“It helps with the timing of Danny Rose coming back early. We have had all sorts of injuries this season but the squad has dealt with them really well.
“But it gives Jimmy Knowles an opportunity - that’s what injuries do.”
He added: “You can get downhearted by injuries or you can say they gives someone else an opportunity to come into the squad and give us that verve. “It is another injury, but it’s one we will accommodate and move on from.”
Flitcroft refused to be drawn as to whether Ajose had shown enough in his loan spell to be on the manager’s summer striker shopping list. “I won’t comment on that as I have to concentrate on this group and the Cambridge game,” he said.
“There are quite a few players out of contract so I don’t think it’s fair on other players to comment and also not fair on Charlton as he is a Charlton player at the minute.
“He is someone who I think will court quite a lot of interest in the summer. “I am focused on what have got and the job in hand.”
Mansfield Town hopeful midfield pair can face Cambridge United
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Thursday 04 April 2019
Mansfield Town are hoping midfielders Jorge Grant and Neal Bishop will both be fit enough to face Cambridge United on Saturday. Grant has had a slight ankle problem in recent weeks so was left out last weekend to try to sort it out while Bishop was taken off as a precaution with a slight hamstring strain.
“Jorge’s ankle has settled down,” said boss David Flitcroft. “.He trained on the grass with the medical staff Monday and Tuesday. We will have him assessed and then hope he will join in with training with a chance to be involved.”
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/mansfield-town-hopeful-midfield-pair-can-face-cambridge-united-1-9692700
On veteran Bishop, he added: “We got him off at the right time. That’s always crucial. “Forget the score at that time, it is important we don’t lose him for any longer than we have to. “So we got Bish off early and got Jacob (Mellis) on. Hopefully we’ve caught it before it becomes an issue or a problem. “If he comes through training we hope to have him ready and ‘Bish-like’ for the Cambridge game.”
Boss believes teenage Mansfield Town striker Jimmy Knowles is the real deal
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Thursday 04 April 2019
Mansfield Town manager David Flicroft believes teenage striker Jimmy Knowles is set to make a big impact after promoting him to the first team squad. The Sutton-born 17-year-old bagged four goals in a reserve game last week and has quickly impressed the other first teamers. He was on the bench at Exeter last weekend and Flitcroft said Knowles was there on merit and not as a token gesture.
“I have been buoyed by Jimmy Knowles coming into the squad and training with us,” he smiled.
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/boss-believes-teenage-mansfield-town-striker-jimmy-knowles-is-the-real-deal-1-9692717
“Young players give off that energy and it excites me. “I trust him one million per cent. This is not a token gesture. “I have seen him a couple of times now and he belongs with the first team squad.
“Greg Abbott has spoken to his dad and we have explained that. “Jimmy will train with us every day and deservedly so. “I watched him training from some scaffolding to see what he was seeing from a bird’s eye view and he thinks like a first team player and thinks like a Mansfield Town player.
“He is a good technician and he scores goals. He buzzes me up to be honest. He is going to be some player. “He has strong legs and good balance.”
Flicroft is hoping to see a production line of young talent make the first team and said: “The reason I came here was because of the job the lads were doing in the academy. I have huge respect for them and did have before I came here.
“There is a pathway here to the first team.” But he said the promotion to the first team had to be earned. “I don’t believe in giving kids anything,” he said. “A lot of my life has been about you earning what you get and I have never involved a kid as a token gesture as I don’t think it’s fair on the kid or the team. “They other find you out. But they love this kid. They have taken him in. They know he can play in the systems we play in and can compete.
“I love his reactions when he gets things wrong. It’s razor-like. He wants to work hard and go and find that ball again if he gives it away.”
Mansfield Town call on fans to stick with them whatever as promotion race enters final furlong
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Thursday 04 April 2019
Mansfield Town are calling on supporters to stick with them on Saturday, even if things don’t go their way against Cambridge United. Stags have been superbly backed by the town all season and, as the promotion finish line comes into sight, the manager is asking fans to stay behind them.
“Only MK Dons have a better record than us at home on points,” he said. “Losing their last two home games has pegged Bury back.
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/mansfield-town-call-on-fans-to-stick-with-them-whatever-as-promotion-race-enters-final-furlong-1-9692719
“Over the season we have been brilliant at home and I put a lot of that down to our supporters being positive. “We are going to get things wrong but stick with us.
“I noticed the other night when I went to Bury and they went 1-0 down it was like a morgue. You saw how it can and does impact the pitch.
“So let’s keep it buoyant here. We will do everything we can to give the supporters that bounce and that level of football we’ve given them most of the season at home.
“There’ve only been a couple of occasions I can think of when we’ve not been at our best.”
Although Cambridge are still in danger of relegation, they still went to promotion hopefuls Bury and won 3-0 on Tuesday night to show how topsy-turvy League Two can be and how dangerous Cambridge are.
“I went to Bury and Futch went to Oldham and both results ended in our favour, so it’s been a really good, positive week for us,” said Flitcroft. “Bury could have gone second, five points clear, and Tranmere could have gone ahead of us after such an unbelievable run. “But sometimes when you are chasing it’s a lot easier than actually being there. That’s what a few teams might find.
“At this time of the year across the leagues, but more so League Ones and Two, I call it freedom football where players are probably not playing for anything in mid-table so they can be really dangerous. They can go into games more relaxed as there’s not much riding on it. “You just go out and play and that’s why you see crazy results. “It’s very difficult in this last month as you get results that defy form and patterns and trends. “When someone in any sport is relaxed their form is brilliant.”
He added: “We need to be super-professional and super-focused to get over that line and show a desire and commitment to want it more than anything in your life at the minute. We have a brilliant opportunity. We’re in a really good place. “The players need to go out prepared but not anxious. We have to enjoy and embrace it. We need to get this stadium rocking.”
Boss David Flitcroft warns Mansfield Town not to underestimate ‘honest’ Cambridge United
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS
Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft praised the honesty of Cambridge United and warned of the dangers they pose ahead of Saturday’s massive home clash. Although still in a battle for survival they won 3-0 at promotion hopefuls Bury on Tuesday and Flitcroft said: “I have spent a lot of time in Leagues Two and One as a player and a manager and I respect those divisions massively as they are full of honesty.
“That’s why you get results like the other night. Cambridge are fighting for their football survival and they needed the three points.
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/boss-david-flitcroft-warns-mansfield-town-not-to-underestimate-honest-cambridge-united-1-9693019
“They showed the galvanised spirit I expect from League One and League Two clubs. “They are not lads with loads of money in the bank. They are fighting tooth and nail for their own individual futures as well as the football club. “They are not lucky enough to be getting five year deals on phenomenal money.
“I saw that honesty from Cambridge the other night and I expect it on Saturday.”
He also had praise for ex-Stags player Colin Calderwood, now in charge at Cambridge. “They have a top manager in Colin Calderwood,” said Flitcroft. “He’s worked with some top players, been a manager, assistant manager and worked for some of the best clubs in the country - he is an absolute top operator.
“His team epitomised that on Tuesday against arguably one of the best teams in the league and one of the most formidable places to go with the goals they scored and the clean sheet they kept against a Bury team that score goals by the bucketload. “So we will respect Cambridge like we respect every single opponent and put the same work into them as we did against Exeter. “Tactically at Bury it was a good away performance from Cambridge - very solid with pace on the counter-attack.”
Mansfield is a much happier camp this week after ending a four-game winless streak with a sparkling 4-1 win at rivals Exeter City last Saturday. “It’s a long way home from Exeter and when you get beaten it doubles the journey time as you are analysing, evaluating and look at every aspect of what went wrong and right,” he said. “When you win in such a fashion and there is a bounce and feelgood factor in the squad on a five hour journey it makes a big difference. “We started the week with a bounce and you could feel the tempo on the training ground. The lads want to get out there. “The lads have worked hard all season. They will get games wrong. They will get things wrong. “But I suppose it’s how I react and how my staff react that sets the tone and the environment. “But if you are a believer and stay positive, stay grounded and keep driving for success, then it comes.”
David Flitcroft wants Mansfield Town to enjoy the promotion chase
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS
David Flitcroft said the pressure of chasing promotion was one that should be embraced and is a completely different pressure to one fighting relegation. The Mansfield Town boss once saved Barnsley on the last day of the season and he said it is a far cry from the pressure of Stags’ current chase for a top three finish.
“I was in a position at Barnsley where we had been written off and had to build a momentum. That was tough pressure,” he said.
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/david-flitcroft-wants-mansfield-town-to-enjoy-the-promotion-chase-1-9692988
“That was the worst pressure I have had. You get relegated from the Championship and people lose their jobs with redundancies.
“So getting out of a league and driving promotion is an exciting pressure. “It’s one that lives with you every day. I carry that pressure on my shoulders and I have no problem with it.”
Flitcroft warned the next few weeks are unlikely to run smoothly for any of the leading sides. “We will make sure we enjoy the next six games,” he said. “There will be twists and turns. That’s the way football is as we saw on Tuesday night. We can’t rely on anyone else, only ourselves.”
Danny Rose nearing a Mansfield Town return
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS
Danny Rose is ready for a return to the rough and tumble of League Two after stepping up the contact side of training this week following his broken jaw. Rose was a surprise inclusion on the bench at Exeter City last weekend where it was decided not to risk him, but the striker has been involved in full training this week and seen his confidence increase.
Boss David Flitcroft said: “He is ready now. If I am being honest he probably wasn’t last weekend. It was probably a bit early. “Me and Danny had a chat with 10 minutes to go and luckily the scoreline was in our favour and we looked menacing, so Danny didn’t need to go on. I didn’t want to risk him.
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/danny-rose-nearing-a-mansfield-town-return-1-9692969
“I wanted him to go down with us and be a part of the trip. “But I didn’t really want to put him on. If we’d have just needed something in the last 10 minutes we could have done. The scoreline afforded us the opportunity that we didn’t have to.
“Each week he progresses so this week has allowed him a bit more time to heal and get ready. “He gets another week in which we can get him into contact in training and Danny can get his game time in over the next couple of weeks.”
He added: “I am not going to sit here and says to fans he is ready to start as he isn’t. He has missed a lot of football. “But we will build and get him up to a condition where he is ready to make maximum impact for however long that is.”
Flitcroft said a rattling challenge in training by Ryan Sweeney had thankfully probably done more good than harm for Rose. “We did two training sessions last week and you could see Danny getting more confident in and around the players,” he said. “Ryan Sweeney nearly ‘clothes-lined’ him.
“I said to the players try to stay away from him but Sweens didn’t, being the competitor he is. “I think it shocked Danny, but also gave him that confidence to be in and around it.”
‘Meetings’ led to resounding win
mansfieldtown.net, Thursday 04 April 2019
Stags’ midfielder Alex MacDonald says that last weekend’s scintillating performance away to Exeter came as a result of a series of meetings between the players and manager David Flitcroft.
Mansfield recorded a 4-1 victory over the Grecians, following two goals apiece from Tyler Walker and CJ Hamilton.
MacDonald went into detail about the ‘meetings’ held between the Stags’ players and management, adding that the week leading up to the resounding win in Devon ‘just felt right.’
“We were in a bit of a bad run in form, so it was good to be back involved [against Exeter] and get the three points, and the performance that went with it was exceptional,” said the 28-year-old.
“The manager went on record and spoke about a lot of meetings he had with the players, talking about why we do it [play football] and who we do it for. The whole week just felt right.
“It was a real galvanised spirit last week and it was great to see. It really showed in the performance on Saturday, which was a very, very good away performance.
“A lot of the lads told their stories, and I told mine, about why and who I do it for. We touched on some really good things and a lot of the lads really committed to it.
“I’ve got a few [motivations]. Obviously my little girl is a huge motivation for me, as I want to give her the best life she can possibly have, and my partner as well.
“I’m very success-driven, and I’ve been quite lucky to achieve a number of promotions in my career. It’s certainly something that keeps me going and motivates me.”
MacDonald added that confidence is ‘flowing’ through the Mansfield ranks at present, and hopes for his first start at One Call Stadium since returning from a long-term injury, this weekend against Cambridge.
The midfielder suffered a knee injury away to this weekend’s opponents in late September, keeping him sidelined for over four months.
“You’ve got to try and hit form at the right times of the season. This is what’s known as the business end of the season.
“We’ve got some really tough games coming up, but ones that we’re looking forward to. But they’re ones where if we fully apply ourselves like we did at Exeter, I’m confident we can come away with the three points.
“I had a little taste of Crawley away, but it was just great to be back [against Exeter]. I’m desperate to be back out there.
“With the experience I’ve had previously, in these situations, I’m desperate to help the lads out there.
“I’ve made a few cameos [since returning from injury] in front of the home fans, but if I get a start out there [against Cambridge] it’ll be a long time coming.
“It’s one that I’m looking forward to, but only one I’ll look forward to if we apply ourselves like we did last weekend.
“Once we got that win last week, we’ve had a real spring in our step in training. There’s a lot of confidence flowing through the camp at the minute. It’s a very exciting time to be part of this football club.”
The midfielder also compared Stags’ current season to successful seasons he has experienced throughout his career, explaining that the campaigns share similarities.
“With Oxford we needed to win the last three games, and we achieved that to clinch promotion. There are a lot of similarities between our seasons [Oxford promotion-winning season and Mansfield’s current season].
“I’ve been involved in relegation battles. I was at Plymouth, who were in a real bad place at the time, and it was a real tough time for the club.
“That’s a pressure that you don’t like to be under. Going back to different types of pressure, the pressures that we’re under at the moment are good pressures.
“They’re enjoyable pressures. To be riding high towards the top of the league and having a chance to possibly go all the way, it’s an enjoyable time to be a Mansfield Town player.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch MacDonald’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
Mansfield Town winger compares Stags' team spirit to his previous success
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS
Alex MacDonald says he is seeing similarities between the team spirit at Mansfield Town and that at his former club Oxford United when they won promotion. MacDonald was promoted from League Two with United back in 2016, so knows full well what it takes to make the jump to League One. And now, as he aims to help mastermind the Stags on a similar journey, he believes the ingredients are there and that the pressure the players are under is a positive thing.
He said: "The feeling here is quite similar to what I’ve experienced in the past. In 2016 with Oxford we needed to win our last three games and we achieved that to secure promotion, so there are a lot of similarities that I’ve seen in our season so far to those I’ve been involved with in the past.
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/mansfield-town-winger-compares-stags-team-spirit-to-his-previous-success-1-9692956
"I’ve also been involved in relegation battles, including on loan at Plymouth when the club was really in a bad place and went into administration. It was a really tough time and you even had staff members right from the club shop to the ticket office putting pressure on you to get results as they were worried about losing their jobs.
“That’s a pressure you don’t want to be under, where the club’s on a downward spiral and trying to avoid going out of the Football League. It’s really tough. “It was an experience that held me in good stead for the rest of my career in terms of trying to avoid being involved in something like that again.
“In comparison, the pressures we’re under at the moment are good pressures. To be riding high at the top with the chance of getting the club to League One where all the staff and players are desperate to be, means it’s great time to be a Mansfield player and supporter."
MacDonald says that manager David Flitcroft has played a big part in helping his players appreciate the position they are in, not just in a footballing sense but in life as a whole.
He said: "The manager had a lot of meetings with the lads last week and the whole week just seemed right and galvanised the spirit and it certainly showed in the performance at Exeter on Saturday which was a very, very good away display. “In the meetings, the manager just reminded us why we do our jobs and he gave us the chance to tell our stories and talk about why and for whom we do our jobs. “A lot of lads really opened up and committed to it and carried that on at Exeter. “From my point of view, my little girl is a huge motivation for me and I want to try and give her and my partner the best life I possibly can. I’m very success-driven and have been lucky in my career to achieve promotions and it’s something I love doing as it sets you up for the summer and you can reflect on it."
Boss David Flitcroft warns Mansfield Town not to underestimate ‘honest’ Cambridge United With Cambridge United the visitors on Saturday, MacDonald now wants to see the momentum gained from last Saturday's win continue. He said: "You’ve got to try and hit form at the right times of the season. We’ve got some really tough games coming up but they’re ones we’re looking forward to and ones that if we turn up and apply ourselves in like we did at Exeter then I’m fully confident we’ll win.
Mansfield Town's Alex MacDonald excited by crucial run-in
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS
Alex MacDonald says he and his fellow Mansfield Town players are full of confidence and excitement as they aim to end the season with promotion. MacDonald has returned to the Stags setup in recent games following a spell out injured, playing a key part in last Saturday's 4-1 win at Exeter City. And, while reflecting on that success, MacDonald has said that the vibe around the club is very positive.
He said: "Saturday was probably the best match I’ve been involved in all season. It was good to be back in the side but most importantly the three points were brought home and the performance was exceptional.
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/mansfield-town-s-alex-macdonald-excited-by-crucial-run-in-1-9692916
“After a couple of away games without a win it was important to go there and get a result as it’s a tough place to go. I’ve been there in the past and it really can be a tricky place to play. “We had a great record on the road earlier in the season and needed to get back to that.
“Being back in the starting line-up had been a long time in coming. I’d had a bit of a taster in the week at Crawley but it was just great to be back. “I must be doing the manager’s head in as I’m trying to get back in the team and am desperate to be back out there and help the lads out."
Attention now turns to this weekend's visit of Cambridge United as Mansfield look to regain their top three place. And MacDonald says he now wants to see a similar display to that which was produced by the Stags last weekend. He said: “It’ll be great to be back in front of the home fans against Cambridge. It’s been a long time since I’ve played a game from the start here so hopefully I’ll get selected and help the team apply ourselves like we did last weekend.
“The boys are excited ahead of the run-in. The win last week created a real spring in our step and there’s a lot of confidence running through the camp. “It’s a busy time over Easter but we’ve had a couple of week-long breaks so we should be fresh enough for the challenge.
“It’s tight at the top but we can only influence what we do by working as hard as we can.”