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The inside story: Shaq's attack on League Two

28 February 2017

Supporters can read the feature-length interview which striker Shaq Coulthirst gave to The Stag for last Saturday's match against Newport County.

If you’re going to pick just one former team-mate from whom to take inspiration, then Premier League hot-shot Harry Kane is not a bad choice. 

It was at Spurs that Mansfield Town loan signing Shaquile Coulthirst played alongside the England star as part of the White Hart Lane club’s youth team. 

Ever since then, the Stags’ frontman – currently on loan from Peterborough – has followed ace goal-getter Kane’s career closely as he has gone from strength to strength, as underlined by his impressive hat-trick in Tottenham’s 3-0 Emirates FA Cup fifth round win at Fulham. 

As well as wanting a former colleague to do well, it has also served to remind the 22-year-old of what can be accomplished if you listen in training, play hard and maximise your talents. 

You see, while Couthirst, whose solitary Tottenham appearance came in the Europa League against Anzhi Makhachkala, may have dropped down to League Two for the moment, it does not mean to say the Londoner does not have eyes to climb back up the ladder. 

In fact, the former England Under-19 international has every intention of playing at a much higher level one day… maybe even with or against his old mate Kane. 

“I came across a few good players during my time at Spurs, with Harry Kane being one of them,” recalls Coulthirst, ironically an Arsenal fan as a young boy. 

“He was a very nice lad with a humble character, who was quite reserved. “You could always see he had it in him to be a top player because he was always such a good finisher. He kept believing in himself, he eventually got a chance and now they are reaping the rewards from that. 

“He had a real focus and determination to get where he wanted to be, and I think I have something similar to that. I think most players want to play at the highest level possible – and I am no different. 

“Not everyone gets the breaks to ‘make it’, but I believe in my own ability. I feel if I continue to work hard, like Harry has done, then there is no reason why I can’t move up in the long term.” 

That said, Hackney-born Coulthirst is quite prepared to serve his time in the lower reaches of the English Football League in the short-term, with his record showing that he has played on loan at six different clubs to get first team experience, the vast majority of those before his switch to the Posh. 

He insists that each of those spells has only made him a more complete player, with his latest stint at One Call Stadium so far yielding three goals from five games.

Number seven Coulthirst explains: “I think the loan spells have been important to me and helped bring me on. Any time you spend playing League football is time well spent.

“The manager and coaches of Under-21 sides can tell you all they like about what it is like to go out and play men’s football, but nothing prepares you for it – you just need to go and do it. 

“It gives you something to measure yourself against and it shows you where you need to improve.” 

Like other team-mates such as Jake Kean, Hayden White, Ben Whiteman and Kyle Howkins, Coulthirst’s future at Mansfield beyond the season will be up in the air once his loan spell expires.

But the former Leyton Orient, York and Torquay loanee has been happy with how things have gone in north Nottinghamshire so far, and has an open mind when it comes to his thoughts on any move becoming permanent. 

“They are a really good set of lads who I am training and playing with and the manager is great to work for – he’s one of the big reasons why I came here in the first place,” says Coulthirst. 

“I am really pleased that I have been able to contribute so far, and score some goals which I was brought here to do, and hopefully I can continue to do that in the games we have left this season. 

“After that, who knows? But it is definitely something I would think about because everyone’s been great including the fans. I’m just concentrating on the rest of this season for a start, though.” 

Mansfield had gone unbeaten in nine league matches dating back to late December prior to that run coming to an abrupt halt at Blundell Park, Grimsby, following a 3-0 defeat. But Coulthirst is convinced that was only a temporary blip and that the team can quickly get back to winning ways when they entertain Newport this afternoon. 

He adds: “I think in the last couple of games, at Grimsby and against Accrington before that, little things have gone against us which have been key moments in games. 

“We have made a few mistakes that have been punished and we have also not made the most of our chances which, if we had taken, meant things could have been different. I know I felt I should have scored with a header on Saturday, even though it was a good save from the ‘keeper. 

“But it’s nothing we can’t put right. We know that any game in this league is tough, but we also fancy our chances against anyone if we play as we can.” 

One thing Coulthirst knows he will be able to rely on against the Exiles is strong vocal backing from the home support, being very impressed with the way the Stags’ followers have got behind their team, both home and away. 

“Even when we were 3-0 down at Grimsby, the fans were still singing and trying to lift us to help us get back into the game,” he notes. 

“We’ve had that same level of support at all the away games since I have been here – and they are just as good at getting behind us at home too. I can tell you it’s something the players really appreciate and it’s massively encouraging to have the fans behind us.”

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