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Crewe line-up cemented in gaffer's mind

3 August 2017

Stags' boss Steve Evans has decided which players will be handed a starting place in Saturday's season opener against Crewe Alexandra.

The Stags are set for battle ahead of Saturday's big kick-off following a pre-season at One Call Stadium which has sparked a new sense of anticipation and excitement around the Town of Mansfield.

Boss Steve Evans has made a number of outstanding signings, with 13 new recruits added to the squad to date, whilst 11 left the club following the conclusion of 2016/17 campaign.

And in addition to already knowing his starting team, the gaffer has also decided on who will wear the captain's armband this season.

"We'll tell the starting team around lunch-time on Saturday at the team hotel. We always have a team meeting and we'll tell them then and the boys on the bench will be told at the stadium," the manager said. 

"I have decided [who will be captain] but we'll tell the players tomorrow morning before we train. There's three or four protagonists for that role, it's not just one. Zander (Diamond) has captained us of course and Rhys (Bennett) has captained us and so has Ando (Paul Anderson), but we'll tell the players first.

"[The captain's] role is to be your person in the dressing room and on the pitch, but it doesn't necessarily have to mean he's going to play every game. People have this myth that if you name a captain, he gets a shirt every game and it's nonsense.

"We’ll tell the starting team around lunch-time on Saturday at the team hotel."

Steve Evans, manager

"You have to pick a team to win a game and that's why you have a captain and we'll probably announce a captain and two vice captains on the basis that one of those three will play unless there's injuries or suspensions."

The former Leeds United boss has everyone available apart from winger Alex MacDonald for Saturday's fixture and also admitted that he believes Crewe will do well in the upcoming season.

"We have all except Alex MacDonald to pick from and when you mention that, Alex is getting fitter everyday and we'll miss him at Crewe but he'll be back soon.

"I think he's got a real chance for Forest Green at home. The wee man's working incredibly hard. He looks absolutely terrific and he's a big player for us. He's a big player going forward and we want the wee fella back.

"Rhys (Bennett) will train today, we've got no issues with Rhys. He was with the boys on Tuesday and did really well and he's back on the grass today.

"The one thing that Crewe have got are good players, and good players win games. They've got Dave Artell who is making his way in his management career – a former Stag – he's a good guy.

"I've seen them and Paul's (Raynor) seen them and we both think they'll do very well because they've got that attention to detail and that aggression from the manager and they've got very talented footballers."

After revealing earlier this week that Stags have had a bid accepted for an un-named striker, the gaffer insisted that he is interested in players other than those who have been reported in the media recently.

"People see us linked to one particular striker and if they think that we're only linked to one striker or trying to get one striker then they're mistaken.

"We're talking to two or three clubs at the minute. I'm very, very fortunate that the chairman (John Radford) wants this to happen in terms of us strengthening it a little bit further when you look at what others have done last week.

"The chief executive (Carolyn Radford) is adamant she wants to do it and that's fantastic when you're the manager because up the line they want to do it."

One player who Stags have been heavily linked with in the media is 23-year-old Scunthorpe United frontman Tom Hopper.

"We've had a chat with Scunthorpe but we're not quite there, contrary to media reports we're there – we're not. We're trying but it's not just young Tom [Hopper]; he's a good player but there's one or two others that we're particularly keen on and even late last night we were on the phone trying to make one of them happen."

Supporters can watch the manager's full news conference by logging in to iFollow Stags.


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