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Boss showers praise on squad

16 February 2017

Stags’ boss Steve Evans this morning took the time to praise his squad on the three-month anniversary of his appointment as the club’s manager.

Since the manager joined the club, Stags have climbed from 18th to seventh in Sky Bet League Two and are currently on a nine-match unbeaten run since the turn of the year. 

And at this morning’s news conference, the gaffer commended his squad for their hard work in the three months he’s been in the role. 

“Our defending has been very good all the way through, not just since the first of January but in the main it’s been very good. That’s down to the players – we work with them on the training ground but quite rightfully they’ve had plaudits, and so they should do," the Stags' boss said. 

“We didn’t for one second look at our players and fault effort or determination or commitment and passion, that’s there in abundance. I think we could see that in the celebrations when Yoann Arquin gets the late equaliser [against Accrington], it’s the whole team who’s with him.

"We’ve got a fantastic dressing room, I’ve made sure I’m down there this morning getting smiles back on people’s faces and getting focus and that’s what we need to be about."

Looking forward to Saturday’s trip to Grimsby Town, the former Leeds United manager has stated his pleasure at seeing the Mariners return to the EFL after a six-year exile. 

“It’s a fantastic place to go and play football, Blundell Park. The supporters, I get plenty of stick, but the supporters are tremendous. They get right behind their team.

“Grimsby are certainly a top end League One club, if not a Championship club and that’s where their aspirations should lie but again, they don’t concern me.

“I don’t care whether Grimsby’s not won for four, won for four, not won for 44; they have no concern to me. It’s what we do and it’s what we do at Blundell Park that will be the difference of whether we come away from there with a point, another three points or no points.”

Defenders Kyle Howkins and George Taft will both sit out Saturday’s Sky Bet League Two clash, but the boss says that midfielder James Baxendale will train tomorrow after sitting out Tuesday’s 4-4 draw with Accrington Stanley due to illness. 

“We’re looking at certainly Howkins back next week. Taft’s in full training now – he’s been training for a week but obviously he needs to train for another week and get involved maybe for 45 minutes with next week’s reserve game, funnily enough away at Grimsby again, but we’ll worry about that next week.

“[Baxendale will] train tomorrow, he’s back in the building today. He’s not quite right to be up there with the group but we expect him to train tomorrow.”

Young midfielder Lewis Collins was included in the Stags’ first team squad for the first time on Tuesday evening and the boss has challenged him to show how much he wants to succeed at the club. 

“We think highly of the kid. We’re not going to get carried away with him but he’s got a little chance. 

“He came out of Reading and sometimes they go to clubs like our club and you go there and you hope that you do well enough to have a second chance. He’s got enough ability and now we’re going to find out if he wants it enough. 

“He’s certainly in our thoughts for Grimsby and he’s from Grimsby as a kid so Mr and Mrs Collins and all the family – get yourselves to Blundell Park and get in the away end!”

Supporters can view Steve Evans’ pre-Grimsby news conference, in full, on Stags PlayerHD. 

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