Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft is eager for the challenges his squad will be up against in their four friendlies against Championship outfits, the first being tomorrow against Frank Lampard’s Derby County side.
Stags will line up against Derby (Wednesday 18 July, 7.30pm kick-off), Sheffield United (Saturday 21 July, 3.00pm kick-off), Sheffield Wednesday (Tuesday 24 July, 7.30pm kick-off) and Rotherham United (Saturday 28 July, 3.00pm kick-off) for their pre-season fixtures, which all take place at One Call Stadium.
Tickets for all four games are available to purchase from www.stagstickets.co.uk, with supporters also being able to buy tickets on the day of the game without being subject to a price increase.
The Stags’ boss previewed Wednesday’s match against Derby in his news conference earlier today, detailing what he hopes to see from his squad against a side that reached the Championship play-offs in May.
He also discussed the determination the Derby players will bring to Mansfield in a continued effort to get into the squad of their new manager Frank Lampard.
"It’s going to be a fantastic game for us in terms of doing the right thing and making sure we’re on point," Flitcroft said. "It’s a massive stimulus for our players to play against such quality opposition in all the games coming up.
"The stats always go up and they’re always north of where they are compared to the other games we’ve played by virtue of the fact that your stimulus’ are higher.
"I think now we’ll be looking at more of the unit work and the teamwork. For the next three weeks, that’s what we’ll be doing. We got some good quality workout in Portugal doing that, but now it’s a different test with the four games we’ve got.
"In Derby, you’ve got one of the contenders to get promoted next season by bringing Frank [Lampard] in and the excitement surrounding that.
"It’s a massive stimulus for our players to play against such quality opposition in all the games coming up."
"Again, Frank has not dipped into the market so all their players have got an equal opportunity to start the season.
"Against Notts County last week, they ran riot. You can feel that the Derby players feel they’ve got an important opportunity to get into Frank’s team."
The Stags’ boss discussed the progress his squad has made as pre-season training comes to its halfway point, also giving updates on players recovering from injury.
"The most important part of any preseason programme is getting your players through and getting them to as many sessions as you can through that six-week period.
"I don’t design a programme for the weakest players," Flitcroft admitted. "I’ll always design it for the strongest players and we all catch up to that. With modern technology in fitness and diet and the different ways coaches are doing things, stats are going up all the time.
"Being able to run and being dynamic and powerful in your running will serve us all season really well.
"With the severity of his injury and where his injury is at, we probably won’t have Mirf [David Mirfin] until Christmas time, but he’s committing to everything. Him and Danny Rose were doing the five sessions every day out there.
"Danny [Rose] is now on his next phase, which is on-the-field work. Everything he’s doing is field-based and he’s crossed over to our fitness coach, DT. He’s getting more and more field-based work in which is good.
"Saturday is too soon for Danny to return,” the manager said. "We’re probably looking at the week after that. I think it’s going to be really important that he gets a full week of pre-season with us. As the lads have been doing sessions every day, Danny has been doing his pool and bag sessions.
"We’ve got to make sure Danny gets all the work in that the other lads have done and he must cover that ground. He’s such an important player that we can’t take shortcuts in his rehabilitation, and then he needs his second phase of his fitness levels.
"Zander [Diamond] has been seeing a specialist. He had a back injury from last season that’s not healed up and he’s still not recovered. He could need surgery on that injury so that’s one that we’re still assessing. It’s bad news for him."
He also spoke on the progression of the former-Bury defender, Nathan Cameron, and the chances of his signing as Cameron has continued his training with the team.
Additionally, the manager said his squad is nearing completion. Flitcroft is satisfied with the group of players brought in, adding that most holes in the squad have been filled.
"We’ve had Nathan Cameron train every day with us and he has played in two and a half games, so we’re assessing that situation and seeing how he responds to the training programme.
"Pre-season is tough, so we’re seeing how he responds in that environment. If we brought him in, he'd probably be the last one.
"The market is freeing up a little bit from what it was a couple weeks ago. A lot of clubs have done well with the younger loan signings that you get from a Premiership or Championship club, so that option is out there.
"We’re looking at different avenues but we’re being patient with it because you’ve got to get the right one. You don’t need much now to add to the squad, but it might just be that last piece that we do need.
"We’re making sure we’ve got enough cover and balance in the squad, and that’s very important. We’ve got players that are flexible, so we are experimenting in this pre-season and making sure we’re getting the full potential of the squad at our disposal."
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