Stags' boss Steve Evans has identified hard work and healthy competition for places as the cornerstones to the team’s recent impressive run.
Mansfield have recorded four victories, two draws and just a solitary defeat in their last seven fixtures across all competitions, and with the new signings already adding sheen to the squad’s depth, the Stags now sit just three points off a play-off spot.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Sky Bet League Two fixture against Leyton Orient, the gaffer has taken time to reflect on recent weeks’ performances and has challenged his players to continue their determined approach.
“The boys have worked hard in preparation for every game, and as we echoed after Saturday in Cambridge, which we won, there were no big scenes; we had won a football match, and we have to get back to working hard again on the training ground," the Stags' boss said.
“We lost a match [against Wycombe], and there is no secret – we come back and work hard again.
“It is about working hard, preparing properly for the matches, making sure the players are focused, and trying to stay in good competition around the pitch. Nothing makes you play, and should make you play, at a better standard than competition.
“We are starting to get that, and we just need that in three or four more [positions] to get that competition at the top end. But we have come a long way from [17th] in the league to where we are today, and we almost can look up and see those play-offs. Every game is vital, and none more so than Saturday [against Leyton Orient].”
Saturday’s opponents Orient have slipped to three consecutive defeats in January, but the manager believes the O’s will provide a stern test.
“There will certainly be good players coming off the team coach, and a manager (Andy Edwards) who has – dare I say – put that 'British feel' back to the football club.
“I think by evidence and looking at the footage of their recent performances, they are going to be whole-hearted; they have got individuals who can play, and it is going to be a test.”
The 54-year-old has further provided injury updates concerning the Stags’ centre-back pairing of George Taft and Kyle Howkins, who have been out with their respective hamstring and knee injuries.
“We are probably looking at George Taft to be back in full training in the middle of February. So probably three weeks from now, he will be in full training, which is great news.
“We expect Kyle Howkins to be back in training in a fortnight, so that is good news as well. That is two big, strong centre-backs coming back at the right time; and other than that, there are no more knocks to report, and we want to keep it in that shape.”
Finally, the former Leeds United manager has once more highlighted the Stags’ fans’ contribution in creating the right atmosphere for the players at One Call Stadium.
“It is the players on the pitch who get the benefits, because there is nothing better that having a supporter right behind you.
“We are going to need them if we are going to have a run and try and get anywhere near these play-offs. It is not just going to be about the 11 men on the pitch, it is also going to be about the 12th man off it.
“We have been in good form, we have had some really positive results, and this is a formidable wounded animal (Leyton) coming here on Saturday.
“They have one of the best squads on paper in the league. Of course, nothing has ever been won on paper, but they are capable. We have to be ready for the stern challenge they bring, and nothing will help us better than the 12th man.”
Supporters can view the manager's news conference, in full, on Stags PlayerHD.