Stags’ boss Steve Evans has today continued his analysis of the current playing staff at the club by inviting the youth team to train alongside his senior players.
The manager has said numerous times during his first month in charge of the club that he will be assessing all members of the playing staff in the weeks before the opening of the January transfer window as he decides in which areas he needs to improve his squad.
And the boss has today given our youth team the chance to impress him as they took part in a training match against members of the first team who have found game-time limited in Sky Bet League Two.
“The analysis has to go across all the playing staff and if I was a parent of one of those young 17-18-year-old kids, I’d want to be asking ‘has Steve Evans looked at my boy, has he seen him in action?’,” the Stags' chief said.
“One of the things I did promise the chairman and the chief executive when I came in is that my analysis of the playing squad and staff goes right across the whole remit.
“We’ve had different players that's been recommended by John (Dempster, academy manager) and the staff that send people across, but there’s nothing better than looking for yourself.
“It might feel as if you’re a right-back in the under 18s and you might thinks there’s only the strikers or the centre-halves or something going across [to train with the first team] and [will] you get your chance – well here is an opportunity to be a shining light.
“We won’t be shy; we’ve always said if they’re good enough, they’re certainly old enough so I’m looking forward to seeing them.”
After assistant manager Paul Raynor spoke last week about a new scouting network which is currently being put in place, the manager has now revealed the identity of the new scout who has joined the club.
“There’s possibly going to be more than one but we’ve brought a gentleman called Stuart Gray in. Not the Stuart Gray of course of Sheffield Wednesday fame but it’s a man who’s worked with us for four or five years now and he was part of a team run by another [person] who was fantastic.
“We’re trying desperately hard to make sure we cover all areas for this football club, that’s important to us.
“He’s worked for many years with John Ward at the likes of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Cheltenham and of course with Kenny Jackett and he’s been at Rotherham for four-and-a-half years and despite their perils at the bottom of the Championship, they’ve had nothing but success for three-and-a-half of those years.
“Him and Gee (Evans, the manager’s brother) played a massive part, Gee particularly, but Stuart as well played a massive part. At the minute, we’re making little steps in to making big steps.”
With the early parts of today’s training taking place behind the gaffer as he spoke to the assembled media, he was pleased to say that his squad came out of Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Colchester virtually unscathed, whilst defender Kyle Howkins was set to take part in a behind-closed-doors match with parent club West Bromwich Albion today.
“There’s only Rhys Bennett who’s missing this morning who’s got a little strain from Saturday but he should be back in training on Thursday, so [there's] nothing too worrying about that.
“The others who have been [out] like Darius (Henderson) who’s been missing and Mitchell (Rose) and people like that, are involved in this game behind us shortly.
“We’re hoping when we come through today that everyone’s fit and well, that’s important for us.”
Supporters can now view Steve Evans' news conference, in full, on Stags PlayerHD.