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Raynor relishing prospect of a cup run

7 August 2017

Mansfield Town assistant manager Paul Raynor has confirmed the Stags will field a 'very strong side' for the Carabao Cup clash with Rochdale on Tuesday night (7.45pm kick-off).

Both sides will be aiming to record their maiden 2017/18 victory in the cup contest after Stags drew with Crewe and Rochdale were defeated by Portsmouth in their respective season openers on Saturday.

And despite Raynor admitting that Sky Bet League Two remains top priority this season, he insists Stags will be fielding a strong side in an attempt to progress in this season's Carabao Cup.

"We've always put cup ties right up there – we don't play weakened teams, as such," said Raynor.

"We don't believe that any team we put out there is weak anyway. We'll put a team out there that will be very strong; there might be one or two changes and we might tweak it a little bit because people might deserve to play as well.

"Every game for us is important – we'd like to get that first win under our belt so why not let it be in the League Cup against Rochdale?"

Paul Raynor, assistant manager

"It's the next game; we want to win just like any other game. Obviously, the league is the top priority throughout the season but when these cup games come around we certainly want to put a team out to try and progress.

"It's a great competition. Every game for us is important – we'd like to get that first win under our belt so why not let it be in the League Cup against Rochdale?"

Rochdale narrowly missed out on a place in the Sky Bet League One play-offs last season as they finished ninth, four points behind eventual promotion winners Millwall.

Keith Hill's side will hold aspirations of sealing a top six berth this campaign and Raynor admits he is relishing the prospect of going up against such strong opposition.

"I had the pleasure of watching them – I went over to watch Conrad Logan at the end of last season and had the good fortune of seeing a fantastic performance," continued Raynor.

"They made Bradford look very ordinary and I think if the results had conspired the right way, Rochdale would have been in the play-offs to get into the Championship, so that shows the test we've got."

Former Nottingham Forest midfielder Raynor says that winger Alex MacDonald is recovering well from minor knee surgery but will not be fit enough to face Dale, however defender Rhys Bennett has now fully recovered from the bruised foot which forced him to miss Stags' final pre-season friendly against Alfreton Town.

"There's a possibility Rhys [Bennett] might come in –against his old club. As I said, we'll sit down later and decide that. Rhys had got a bruised toe and he was nursing his way back through that and he did a little bit of training last week, so we erred on the side of caution with him but he should be 100% ready for tomorrow night.

"He [MacDonald] was out there on the training ground this morning doing his work with the boys.

"He's not too far away and I wouldn't want to put an exact date on it, but I certainly think he's getting very, very close which is really pleasing for us because he's an important member of the squad."

Supporters can view Paul Raynor's full news conference by logging in to iFollow Stags.

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