Stags’ boss Adam Murray says he expects tonight’s game against Hull City to be a test of his side’s defensive mettle.
The Premier League new-boys will visit One Call Stadium this evening after returning from their summer training camp in Portugal last week.
And manager Murray says he organised his side’s pre-season schedule to offer different challenges to prepare them for the rigours of the upcoming Sky Bet League Two season.
“We wanted different challenges. The games that we put in have all gave us different challenges; be it a test in our organisation, like Saturday, a test in our defensive shape, like Saturday, teams that will allow us to play a little bit, like Saturday and again today, we’re up against a Premier League club so we expect to defend,” Murray said.
“Some of the bigger teams, sometimes you go into it and you put the frame of mind that you’re playing against one of the better teams in our league away from home where you have to be solid and maybe play a little bit more counter attack.
“So we use every game and every environment as a different challenge so the plan for pre-season was to get different bits, try different bits out of each game and that’s what we’re done so far.”
After Steve Bruce’s men won the Championship play-offs last season to secure their return to the top flight after just a solitary season in the second tier, Murray says tonight is an opportunity for Stags’ fans to see one of the country’s elite sides in action.
“It’s obviously great for them to come down, and probably more for the fans to see a Premiership team.
“From our point of view it’s another game, it’s another game in our preparation towards the start of a League Two season. So in terms of us being excited by it, we’ll go into it as another challenge and nothing else.”
With temperatures expected to be above 27 degrees by the time tonight’s match kicks off, Murray says he could opt to give his players an equal share of minutes on the pitch, whilst also confirming that midfielder Jack Thomas will again miss this evening’s match with a groin injury.
“It’s obviously very warm; we felt the effects when we were training yesterday. Obviously we’ve got to be a little bit careful from the health side of things but we’re hoping by the time kick-off comes it should be bearable.
“We might, depending on how the weather is, share the game time tonight because we’re in training tomorrow as well so we’ll have an intense session tomorrow so again, it’s about getting match-time into people who need it, but at this point, training ground time is just as important.
“He’s (Jack Thomas) still not 100 percent. [He’s] a lot, lot better than he was, I think we’re going to expect him back sooner than we originally thought, which is good. Because he is only a whippersnapper, we’re not too concerned over his fitness levels.
“Jack’s still finding his body; we forget how young he is.”
Supporters can watch Adam Murray’s pre-match news conference on Stags PlayerHD.