CHELT FA CUP PREVIEW/ SINCLAIR TESTS +VE FOR COVID
We’ll do everything we can to get through - boss
mansfieldtown.net, Friday 8th January 2021
Manager Nigel Clough says the ‘potential’ of what the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup could bring to Mansfield Town should be the ‘incentive’ for his players against Cheltenham Town this weekend.
The Stags saw off Sunderland and Dagenham & Redbridge in the earlier rounds of the competition, and head into Sunday’s match against the Robins following three successive league victories.
Despite the amber and blue’s excellent recent form, the boss warned his side of complacency against a strong Cheltenham outfit who currently sit fourth in Sky Bet League Two.
“If it was a league game, you’d be right in saying we are the form side going into the game. But cup games throw up anything,” he told iFollow Stags.
“It will be a different sort of game with no points at stake. There is just a very important place in the fourth round.
“We won’t be mixing the team, we’ll be putting out the strongest team that we can. We’ll do everything we can to get through.
“It’s good to go into the game confident, but we won’t be over-confident. There will certainly be no complacency, as we know how tough it’s going to be.
“When good teams are having a bit of a dip, you know it’s only going to be temporary, so we’ll hope that we’re not on the end of the start of their resurgence.
“I wish we’d been drawn at home. The incentive is the potential of what it [Fourth Round] could bring for either one of the sides.”
Earlier this week it was revealed that the EFL have introduced bi-weekly coronavirus testing for clubs in the Sky Bet Championship, Sky Bet League One and Sky Bet League Two.
The latest round of testing at Mansfield Town produced one positive test from 37, attacking midfielder Tyrese Sinclair. The boss added: “I think it [one positive test] is testament to how seriously everyone is taking the protocols and staying safe.
“It’s the emphasis that we keep putting on the players - stay safe, follow the protocols and don’t put anyone at risk.
“To have one positive test - and he [Tyrese Sinclair] is asymptomatic - I think it’s brilliant news for the club.
“We’re on different protocols now [at The RH Academy] in terms of the players can’t come into the changing rooms, they arrive in their kit, and wherever possible they go home in their kit.
“We’re following the rules as strictly as we can. It’s very important we do that. They don’t sit together in the canteen, and take their food away.
“I think it [bi-weekly testing] is very welcome for everybody. We’re seeing the outbreaks at the highest level in the Premier League, and you can imagine the resources that they have, yet they still can’t stop it.
“So we need to know if there is anything serious within our building, and the only way to do that is by testing. We will totally remind the players to do everything they can to stay safe.”
Nigel Clough also reflected on his side’s excellent performance on Tuesday evening, with the Stags securing a 2-1 win at home to Salford City ahead of Sunday’s Emirates FA Cup fixture.
“It was a brilliant three points - apart from the last three minutes of the game, where they scored from a corner then had a chance in the last minute.
“I don’t think we did anything wrong in the rest of the game, it was an all-round, good team performance.
“It was probably reflected in the fact that we couldn’t really name a man of the match afterwards, because everyone was so good.
“It was great in the dressing room afterwards to see the subs as pleased as the lads who played. They understood that we couldn’t put a sub on - they understand and it’s great that they get that.”
The manager says that the currently injured duo of wing-back Kellan Gordon and striker Nicky Maynard will be assessed over the weekend ahead of the trip to Cheltenham.
“Kellan [Gordon] and Nicky [Maynard], not much change really. They’re both coming on, but whether they will be available or not for Sunday, we’re not sure.
“We’ll assess them on Saturday in training to see whether we’ll take them with us [to Cheltenham] or not.
“If not, we would hope that they will be in contention for the Oldham game.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Nigel Clough’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
Nigel Clough told iFollow Stags:
"Jamie Reid's playing as well an anybody at the moment and he can't get a goal form a central position, but everybody else is benefitting from him."
Nigel Clough eyes the rewards of FA Cup progress for Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, By Stephen Thirkill, Friday 8th January 2021
Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough is dreaming of a lucrative FA Cup run this season.
Stags travel to Cheltenham on Sunday in the third round with a further £41,000 in prize money up for grabs.
But Clough knows only too well the potential financial rewards and glamour available if Mansfield make the fourth round for the first time in 13 seasons.
“It would be nice to make the fourth round,” he said. “You are not making any money from the gates, but if you can get a tv game it will make a few quid and that is the aim.
“It will help with the transfer window as well.
“The FA Cup incentive is there for lower league players. For Premier League players the league takes priority, so maybe it is not as important for them.
“This is a special cup and it means a lot to lower league clubs. I will have an extra bit of excitement before the game.
“What can the FA Cup bring you if you get through? That is the excitement of the FA Cup.”
Stags go into the game in fine form having won their last three matches.
And for Clough it will also be a good indicator of where his side are currently at.
“It is a measure of where we are at,” he added. “We are judging the squad on every game to get where we need to be in six months time to build a promotion squad.
“We hope the momentum is building now. We think it’s been coming in the last few months when we have got a result or two and we just need to keep our foot on the gas now.
“Cheltenham are a team up there challenging for promotion, so it will be a tough one, We just wish we were at home.
“We will go there with our strongest possible team and do all we can to win the game.”
January window latest and midfielder ruled out for eight weeks - Cheltenham Town manager Michael Duff ahead of Mansfield Town in the FA Cup
gloucestershirelive.co.uk, By Jon Palmer, 8 JAN 2021
How is the squad after Covid testing at the start of the week?
No positive cases, which is a bonus. Probably a surprise as well as much as anything, not because of anything we've done wrong, but the numbers that seem to be going around the country at the minute. It's good that the lads are looking after themselves and doing everything they can. I know you can do everything right and still catch it, but it's a positive when you look at what's going on around the rest of the Football League.
From next Monday the Football League is introducing twice weekly testing. Do you welcome that or is it a double-edged sword potentially?
You welcome it for players' health and safety and their families as well. You could say the double-edged sword is you might be missing players, but it's a strange league this year and you look at teams that are having to be put out in the competition already, but it needs to be done. The reason the league ended last year is because clubs couldn't afford to do the testing so they shut the league down. It's good that the PFA are getting involved and funding that.
The PFA is chipping in so players can continue to ply their trade. Should the LMA be chipping so you can be tested as well and does the club have to foot the bill for you and the backroom staff?
I don't know whether they do or not. To be honest it's way above my pay grade in terms of funding and who pays for this or that. It's a positive we are getting tested, so that's all I will say, to look after the players. We are still having to do our jobs and it's important for the country to have something to look forward to. It's something we have stressed to the players, that the fans can't come and watch, but they are still watching on iFollow or following it online and it does give people a purpose. I think it's important we are kept as safe as possible while we are doing that.
How's the pitch?
As far as I am aware it's all right. It's not frozen this morning. We have made alternative plans for training because we thought the weather would be a lot worse than it is. The training ground seems fine and I've not actually spoken to the groundsman. The covers are on and the pitch is perfect, if it's not frozen. It's probably the best pitch in the league at the minute I'd imagine.
Does the postponement (Harrogate game) help keep the squad fit and fresh for the weekend?
You can look at it either way. Mansfield have played Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday and won all three games. They'll be looking at is as momentum. It's given us an opportunity to have a week's training so we have got some good work in, with reminders of what we want our team to do, how we want it to look and nothing groundbreaking that we haven't done with them before, but we've had a couple of good days and we'll have another couple of good days going into the game.
How much have Mansfield improved under Nigel Clough?
I went to watch them on Tuesday night and I think it's fair to say 2-1 flattered Salford because it could have been four or five at half-time. They hit the crossbar in the second half and Salford scored in the 92nd minute from a scrappy corner. They were excellent and they were excellent against Port Vale when they stuck four on them. They are a different team, full of energy. They should be higher than their league position and we've probably been saying that for 18 months. They look like they are starting to show the quality they have within the squad. Jordan Bowery has scored six in four, the midfield three have unbelievable energy and they have some good defenders as well, so it's not a bad mix. With a good manager on top and he looks like he has them playing in a good way, full of energy and with quality as well. They are a better team than when we drew 0-0 with them last time.
The potential has always been there, but they needed someone to unlock what's in the squad didn't they?
The quality of the squad probably hasn't changed much since they missed out on the last day of the season a couple of years ago. We will have to be right at it and I know every manager says that about every game, but their results speak for themselves. Two games ago they won 4-0 and it could have been four or five against Salford, so we'll need to be at it. That was on a difficult pitch too, but they played some really good football.
An opportunity for Cheltenham Town to reach the fourth round for the first time in 15 years and so much to play for financially too
Yes, two different things. I don't think the players aren't interested in that side of it, but they are doing it for their own personal glory. But a caveat to that is that it is worth a lot of money in a pandemic, where every pound in is probably worth the equivalent of five or six in normal circumstances. If you are not going to get one of the plum ties, which obviously we've not got, no disrespect to Mansfield and I'm sure they'd say the same thing, but we have a winnable game at home. I am sure Mansfield will say the same thing about that too. You go into the next round and you probably have a better chance of getting that plum tie everybody talks about. That's what the players want, testing themselves against the best players, whether it's in front of a crowd or not. An opportunity to potentially go and play at a brilliant stadium and you look around the Premier League now, some of the stadiums you could play in. That's the carrot for the players.
How is Conor Thomas?
He's available for selection now. He's not missed as much football as Longy, but one thing we have with those two is that they are two of the most naturally fit players. We could throw them in and we wouldn't expect them to play 90 minutes straight off the bat, but you could throw them in for a start and get at least 60 minutes in without looking too rusty. They've both been doing a lot of extras and a lot of top ups to try and get them up to replicating match fitness as soon as possible. He's fit and ready to go.
How long is Matty Blair looking at with his hamstring injury?
He's touch and go for the weekend and probably just won't make it, but we wouldn't class him as injured. He might not be ready, but he's not classed as injured now.
After Matty Blair and Liam Sercombe came off at Colchester, would you have taken this outcome because there were fears Sercombe could miss the rest of the season?
Yes because the way Blairy came off looked like a six to eight week job and we did think Sercs could be out for the season. The fact Blairy will be ready for Bolton, so it's only a couple of weeks. You are always living on that edge at the minute and you never know when the physios are going to walk in and say someone has symptoms so they can't train. It's nervous every time you have a meeting with the physio at the minute, but you have to be ready and have alternative plans for whatever the season throws at us.
Is Alex Addai likely to be in and around the squad now after returning from his loan at Maidenhead United?
We'll bring Alex back in and around. He's trained well the last couple of days. He gives us something different and maybe something we have missed in the last few weeks. It's that balance of him wanting to go and play some games, so he's got some games, same as Tahv Campbell and they'll both be in around it for the weekend and we'll take it from there. A lot of it depends on ins and outs and if we bring three centre forwards in, I'd imagine they'll want to leave, but we might not bring three centre forwards in. It's ever evolving and if someone comes in for one of our players and offers them 18 months in a pandemic, the players will go into selfish mode and look after themselves. It's hard to predict too far into the future.
Tahv Campbell scored five goals for Gloucester City so that's going to beneficial for him whatever the short term future holds for him
Yes, I had Tahv in the other day and he'd done exactly what we asked him to do - get some games and score some goals. He's done his end of the bargain. Whether he comes in and plays with us or he doesn't, that's a positive for him no matter what.