Mansfield Town assistant manager Ben Futcher has said that the intensive week of pre-season training in Portugal has helped to further unify the Stags' squad.
Futcher spoke of how the tough training sessions have brought the players together, and highlighted the benefits that the week had for the under-21 players, who were able to work closely with the first team.
"It's been a fantastic week," he said. "It's been an opportunity to get everyone together 24/7. The training has been really tough and it's helped with the togetherness. The players dragged each other through.
"We've had that bit of enjoyment as well and it's been great for everyone. We had the under-21s out there for the start of the week and that was really beneficial for them.
"For the whole club, the benefits have been fantastic.
"The harder you work, it brings everyone together. They're sticking together and driving each other through it. That's been evident since day one. They've had a lot of time to socialise together - they've been having FIFA tournaments in their down time!
"They've been great and really come together. It's been everything we hoped the trip would be. We're all delighted with the way it's gone."
"The harder you work, it brings everyone together. They're sticking together and driving each other through it. That's been evident since day one."
Stags took part in a training match against Portuguese outfit Vitória FC on Saturday, with the natives narrowly winning 1-0. Futcher added that the fixture was a worthwhile exercise for the Stags.
"It [the training match against Vitória] was a fantastic workout. It was probably a lot higher intensity than people expected. In that heat it's normally a slower tempo but they came out of the blocks and made it a really competitive game.
"It was a brilliant workout and was just what we wanted. Everyone got 45 [minutes] in and the young under-21s who were involved never let themselves down and did themselves proud.
"It was great to have them [under-21s] involved. Them being around the first team squad and training with them is something we always like to do.
"All four of them played 45 minutes in the game and they've gone from being nowhere near the first team to playing in the 11.
"They all did well and no one let themselves down. It's a massive learning curve for them and it's been a fantastic trip. The fact that they've been around the lads all week has been a really good exercise."
Two notable omissions from the game were midfielder Paul Anderson and striker Danny Rose, but the Stags' assistant boss says that their injuries are nothing major.
"Paul [Anderson] just picked up a little tweak of his groin on the Wednesday," he said. "So he's just been with the physio for a couple of days. It's nothing major and we're hoping to have him back involved in the next four to five days.
"He [Rose] is building up his fitness now. I don't think he's feeling any pain in the toe injury that he's had for a while. He's working with the fitness staff and building up his base fitness.
"We don't want to put a time on it but when he's level he will join in and hopefully be with us in the next seven to 10 days."
Futcher also added that Stags' management will look to use two teams, with each getting 45 minutes of game time, in Mansfield Town's Thursday night fixture away to Bradford Park Avenue.
The assistant manager also provided an update on Stags' transfer activity, and noted that interest has been made in Paul Digby.
"The whole first team will go over [to Bradford Park Avenue] and we'll hopefully look to do something similar to what we've done in Portugal with two [teams in] 45 minutes.
"We'll be training hard on Wednesday and Friday and we'll build into the weekend. When the other fixtures come into play we'll really start fine-tuning stuff.
"We're really happy with where we're at as a squad and the players we've brought in. We're juts looking into fine-tuning and refining a few things.
"In terms of outoings, Paul Digby didn't come on the trip and there's been a bit of interest in Paul. We're seeing where that's at when we get back.
"We're looking to really home in on the last little parts of the squad."
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