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Benning reaping the rewards of 'tough' pre-season

21 July 2018

Left-back Mal Benning reflected on what he says has been a 'tough' but 'enjoyable' pre-season programme under Stags' boss David Flitcroft, following Mansfield's hard-fought 0-0 draw with Championship outfit Sheffield United.

Benning played for the majority of the match at One Call Stadium this afternoon, in which the Stags went toe-to-toe with the Blades - a performance which was later described as 'outstanding' by opposition boss Chris Wilder.

The defender claims that Mansfield are raring to go following an intense pre-season programme under Flitcroft, which he says is much tougher compared to previous campaigns.

"I'm feeling good. It's been a good pre-season. Everyone is looking sharp and fit so we're ready to go," he said.

"It's one of the toughest [pre-seasons at Mansfield] to be fair. Compared to last season, definitely. I'm feeling good. It's my fourth season here but I'm enjoying every minute.

"We [Benning and Pearce] have enjoyed every minute [at Mansfield]. It's our fourth season and it's been great. There's been ups and downs but we've enjoyed every minute.

"It's one of the toughest [pre-seasons at Mansfield] to be fair. Compared to last season, definitely. I'm feeling good. It's my fourth season here but I'm enjoying every minute."

Mal Benning, defender

"The gaffer has got a work ethic within in the team where he wants players to run as hard as they can."

Benning also added that after a tough 15 minutes, the Stags eased into this afternoon's game, and caused issues to a Championship opposition for the second time this week.

"It was tough today. They moved the ball quicker than Derby did and they came at us a bit in the first 15 [minutes]," he added.

"I thought in the first 15 we dealt with it well and caused them some problems.

"It was a good team performance. After the first 15, they were overloading us in the wide areas, and we sorted that out. 

"Some of our play today was really good so hopefully we can carry that through.

"We kept a clean sheet which was a very good thing. It's a platform to build on. We had chances to score a couple of goals, so it's just [about] putting those chances away. That'll come."

The 24-year-old also spoke of the growing chemistry between the players in the Stags' squad, and what is expected of him in his new wing-back role since the switch to a three-at-the-back formation by Mansfield boss Flitcroft.

"As each game goes you learn who's good at what. Today there were some good combinations and it felt good passing the ball, especially with Mellis, Otis and Davies on my side.

"It's about creating opportunities. That's what you're there for. You're the out ball as a wing-back. When you get the ball, you have to do something, you can't just pass it back. You can either create something or hopefully get the ball moving and hit the strikers."

Benning also touched on the squad's excitement for the first game of the season at home to Newport on Saturday 4 August.

"I've had plenty of minutes which is good. I'm feeling fit. We have two more games and two more weeks until the season starts so hopefully I can get quicker.

"When it hits the Friday before 4 August I'll be buzzing to get on the pitch. Everyone is buzzing for it.

"Collectively, we want to get promoted and hopefully we can do that this season. Personally, I want to play as many games as I can and be part of the promotion team."

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