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Club News

Rhys Bennett: Talking a good game

25 August 2016

Club News

Rhys Bennett: Talking a good game

25 August 2016

After joining up with his new Mansfield Town team-mates this summer, defender Rhys Bennett is hoping he speaks their language.

The 24-year-old defender “likes a challenge”, and has followed up an interest in French and German at a younger age by studying Spanish at night classes.

But his primary concern right now is to ensure his communication with the rest of the Stags’ back four is just as effective as he bids to make the right-back position his own. 

The former Rochdale man may have dropped down a division to come to the One Call Stadium – after helping the Lancastrians to promotion from League Two in 2013-14.

But the former Bolton Wanderers trainee knows he can ill-afford to take things for granted as he settles in at a new club determined to push on from last season’s 12th place finish.

“I’ve just started with the Spanish lessons in Nottingham in the evenings because I like to keep my mind active and busy,” explains Bennett.

“I’ve always loved learning stuff, and languages have always been interesting to me. I have got some mates with whom I speak French and I also liked German as a kid.

“I saw there was a chance to have a go at Spanish and I thought ‘why not?’ It would be great to go there and be able to speak the language.

“At the moment, though, I just want to make sure that my football is working out. I’m excited to have joined Mansfield and I think we can have a good season."

And Bennett feels that the squad which boss Adam Murray has assembled can have an impact on EFL Sky Bet League Two.

“I’ve been impressed with the quality of all the players since coming here, but especially the front line, which is important because they are the ones who score you the goals to win games and get promoted,” he insists.

“As hard as you work as a defensive unit, what the boys do up front is what really matters and that is why they get paid the most money. It’s what football is all about.

“With Matt Green Danny Rose, Paul Hoban, Darius Henderson and even CJ Hamilton, who can play up there, we have some really good options and we have good variety in there as well for any situation.

“Matt is very quick and dynamic, Danny is good in the air for his size and a really good link man, Pat is a strong as an ox and really good in the air and although we haven’t seen too much of Darius yet, we know he is going to be good target man.”

Bennett, who was originally on the books of Bury before joining Bolton and also played some football for non-league Radcliffe Borough, can already see some similarities between this Mansfield side and his former team-mates at Rochdale.

Like Dale, he believes the Stags can upset the odds and get the better of clubs with more wealth and a bigger fan base, with the likes of Portsmouth, Plymouth, Leyton Orient, Luton, Blackpool and Doncaster all well fancied to challenge at the top end of the table.

Bennett says: “It is a lot like the promotion season at Rochdale. No-one really gave us a chance or expected to have a charge.

“But when you start winning games which builds confidence, it’s amazing how you can start stringing results together and beating good teams.

“At Rochdale we did well against teams in the cup and that made us believe we could do well in the league. Having competed well against Blackburn, that has given us confidence and there’s no reason why we can’t do well in the league as well.”

Until the age of 14, Bennett played as a striker and only moved back on the advice of a coach at Bolton.

He found he “quite enjoyed it” as a central defender and has largely operated at the back, rather than up front, ever since.

“I’ve played quite a bit in the centre of defence in my career, but I’ve been identified as a right back here at Mansfield and I’ll be doing my best to be consistent for the manager” adds Bennett.

“Of course, I’d love to think I’ve still got the striker’s eye if I get a chance or two this season and can chip in with a couple of goals. After all, there’s no better feeling in football than finding the back of the net.”

The above interview is an extract from 'the big interview' in our match programme at home to Yeovil Town on Tuesday 16 August. Buy your copy today by calling our club shop on 01623 482 482.

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