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Benning says he feels 'much fitter' this season

23 August 2018

Stags’ defender Mal Benning says he feels ‘much fitter’ in comparison to previous seasons, something he says is necessary to perform in his new role at left wing-back.

Since the start of pre-season, manager David Flitcroft has opted to deploy a three-at-the-back system, meaning a slight change of role for Benning, moving from left-back to left wing-back.

The defender explained the requirement of added fitness to properly fulfil his new role, and cited the Stags boss’ training programme for giving him exactly that.

“There’s a lot been said about work on the training ground but there definitely is,” said Benning. “Everyone knows what they’re doing. I thought the back three the other night were very solid.

“The back three are a main part of it [the system], and when the wing-backs need to help, we do. I think it’s just the work on the training ground so everyone knows their roles.

“We go through every aspect [on the training ground]. We go through passages of play and what to do when the ball is on the other side of the wing-back. [We’re learning] how to combat other teams.

“Wing-back is a role that I like. I’ve been enjoying it out there. Everyone knows that I like attacking from left-back and you do get that freedom. You’re further up the pitch and have to adapt your game.

“It’s one of those where if I am caught up the pitch I have Pearce or Sweeney on the left down there to back me up.

“Since the gaffer has come in with his fitness regime, I feel much fitter this year. I’m feeling much fitter and sharper. At left wing-back you do need to put a shift in and I’m putting much more of a shift in now.

“It [increased fitness] is very important at wing-back. You have to be attacking and defending, so you have to put a shift in out there.”

"Since the gaffer has come in with his fitness regime, I feel much fitter this year. I’m feeling much fitter and sharper."

Mal Benning, defender

Benning also reflected on Stags’ recent 0-0 draw away to Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday night, and explained that although it was a good point to earn, he conceded that Mansfield had the chances to win the game.

“Overall I think it’s a very good point,” he added. “Going to Tranmere on a Tuesday night, not many teams will come away with three points. Saying that, we did have chances to get the three points.

“It was a good, contested game. We could’ve nicked it.

“The main thing is we are creating opportunities like that. Obviously you’re not going to score every one, but because we’re creating that many opportunities, we know we’re going to score goals in games.

“We’ll take that [unbeaten start] from pre-season as well. We played against some decent teams and we’re unbeaten against them as well so it’s a good stat to have and we want to keep it up.

“We’re all frustrated not to have picked up two wins in the last two games, but we’re unbeaten and that’s a great stat to have.

“We’re in a decent stage in the table so it’s one of those where if you get a couple more points we’re right up there.

 “I’ve been satisfied [with my season]. Tuesday night was just one of those nights. You just take that on the chin and move on. Other than that I think I’ve done well.”

The defender then looked ahead to Stags’ next two fixtures, Macclesfield and West Brom, and explained why next Tuesday’s clash at the Hawthorns will be a special evening for him.

 “They [Macclesfield] were champions last season so they’re going to have momentum. It’ll be another tough away day but I’m confident we can get three points.

“It [The Hawthorns] is literally two minutes from my house! It’s going to be a good match and I’m looking forward to it.

“We [me and my family] were talking about it [the draw]. I either wanted Aston Villa or West Brom, and one of them came through.”

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