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Play-offs in manager's sights ahead of Cheltenham

2 March 2017

Stags’ boss Steve Evans is targeting a place in the play-off pack with a positive result in Saturday's Sky Bet League Two clash at Cheltenham Town.

Following Tuesday’s 0-0 draw away to Yeovil Town, Stags currently sit one point outside of the play-offs and a win in Gloucestershire on Saturday (04 March, 3.00pm kick-off) could see us in the play-off positions.

And after Tuesday’s 206-mile journey home from Somerset, the manager gave the players Wednesday off to recover and he now expects them to be fresh and ready to prepare for the visit to Cheltenham. 

“We need to be full of freshness; we changed that up last week and surprised many with the Newport game," the Stags' manager said.

“We surprised many, maybe, down at Yeovil and we might surprise one or two with what we do down at Cheltenham. 

“I trust every one of these players; they’ve got fantastic attitudes, they’ve got great abilities as well and we’ll need to freshen it up because we want freshness about our performance. 

“We just need to make sure that we go there, we work as hard as we can. We take the chances when they come, which we didn’t do on Tuesday evening, and we defend properly. 

“That gives you the recipe of having a chance of adding to the points tally. We have to be in contention with the play-off group when we come out of Whaddon Road on Saturday evening.”

The former Leeds United gaffer says he is expecting a difficult game against an in-form Robins’ side on Saturday and says there is no room for excuses from his side. 

“Going to Cheltenham with the state of the pitch, it’s a field, it’s not a playing surface,” the Stags’ manager said. 

“[They’ve got] a manager who’s had to change the type of players that he likes to work with in January because Gary Johnson is a football man. 

“I remember the outstanding Bristol City team he had that got to the play-off final, it was a stunning team and they got it down and played. He went in to Cheltenham, he played that way getting out of the National League and into League Two and then the pitch plays a part so they’ve signed players to play in a certain way. 

“At this stage of the season, you don’t always turn up and play on the best of pitches. We will not be offering the pitch at Cheltenham as any excuse on Saturday, I won’t allow anyone to use that excuse, not even me afterwards if it went against us.”

With strikers Danny Rose and Matt Green both staying at home for Tuesday’s trip to Yeovil, the boss says both players will be assessed over the next two days before a decision is made as to whether they’ll travel to Cheltenham. 

However, defender Kyle Howkins is now available for selection whilst fellow centre-half George Taft is also nearing a return to first team duties. 

“We’ll give Danny Rose and we’ll give Matt Green the opportunity to be fit for Saturday. Is it a touch early? Well we’ll see if they can train today and tomorrow, if they can’t then obviously they miss out but it’ll be a certainty that they’ll be involved most likely next week, but there’s a chance for Saturday. 

“I gave my permission to Tony Pulis and the gang at West Bromwich Albion telling them to play him [Kyle Howkins] on Monday night. He was excellent, we got the game watched, so Kyle becomes a big option to us as well. 

“George Taft, everyday he gets nearer to getting back in to first team action. So we’ve got the two new signings that we spoke about, Taft and Howkins, they’re in the building now and ready to be selected if called upon.”

Supporters can view Steve Evans’ news conference, in full, by logging in to Stags PlayerHD

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