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Interviews

We're ready for new season - MacDonald

26 July 2018

Stags' midfielder Alex MacDonald says that the Mansfield Town players are feeling 'fit' and 'ready' for the upcoming Sky Bet League Two season, following manager David Flitcroft's intensive pre-season programme.

Mansfield face Newport County at One Call Stadium in the opening game of the new campaign on Saturday 04 August, and MacDonald claims that the hard work in pre-season has well-prepared the Stags for the fixture.

"It's been a tough pre-season," he said. "It's been a hard, hard pre-season. But it's been a fair pre-season. We've worked on numerous things on the pitch whilst getting the base fitness in there.

"When the games start to come thick and fast that's when you really start to sharpen up and start to feel the effects of the base fitness that you've done for the previous couple of weeks.

"I'll speak on behalf of everyone when I say we're feeling ready, we're feeling fit and we're looking forward to the first game of the season."

The versatile midfielder added that it was the work that the Stags have done throughout the duration of the summer that has prepared them so well for the opening league fixture.

"It was well-documented in the off-season that it wasn't a case of 'right, you're finished, we'll see you on the first day of pre-season.' Myself and a lot of the other players all had to come in and do a certain amount of sessions over the summer.

"That's something that I've never experienced before but, with the shape that the lads came back in, we're certainly feeling the benefits of it.

"The training that we have had has been very, very good. It's been very tough, but very good. It's been match-specific, and a lot of that comes down to the management team and how they've planned the pre-season.

"I'll speak on behalf of everyone when I say we're feeling ready, we're feeling fit and we're looking forward to the first game of the season."

Alex MacDonald, midfielder

"Every footballer will tell you that pre-season is not an enjoyable time because of how hard it is. But there's nothing better than when it comes to the Saturday afternoon and you're playing for three points. No matter how young or old you are, you still get that excitement.

"With how well we've performed in pre-season, that's given us an extra edge and we're really looking forward to the season.

"Everything that I did last year, I want to make that better. And everything that I didn't do as well last year, I want to make that better as well! 

"You're always trying to better yourself and you're always looking at bits and pieces you can improve in your own game.

"We have a new analyst in who worked with the manager down at Swindon, and I've been working closely with him to try and pick up bits and pieces."

MacDonald also touched on the success that the Stags have found in their reecent pre-season fixtures, and explained that the team are expecting another tough game come Saturday when Rotherham United come to town.

"The scorelines [in pre-season] have really backed up the performances," said MacDonald. "From a performance point of view, there's a few things that we're looking to improve on. For long periods in the games, we feel in control.

"Without the ball we don't feel like we're really going to concede. When you come up against the likes of Derby and some of the players they have in their ranks it's going to be tough and we're going to be without the ball for large spells.

"We've adopted a new shape this year and we've really taken to it and worked on it.

"We've played against three top-quality opposition. I think anyone who's been at the games has seen not just the performances, but the results as well, which is the most pleasing thing.

"It [game vs Sheffield Wednesday] was quite an eventful night. We don't want to see anything like that at this ground or anywhere across the country.

"The events took the gloss off a Stags performance which was, for 75 minutes, a very good one. It was one where it was thoroughly enjoyable to be out there.

"We got the win that we deserved and everyone watching could see how fit, how drilled and how well we're looking.

"[Rotherham will be] another tough game. The teams that are coming here are very, very good teams. They have a real spring in their step with what happened with them last year [promotion to the Championship].

"We're looking to improve and the minor things that we want to improve on, we have to make sure we put them into practice on Saturday."

The 28-year-old spoke of this Sunday's Open Day, which gives fans the opportunity to watch the Stags train, and emphasised how the players are looking to reflect the hard-working nature of the town on the pitch throughout the course of the season.

"These days [Open Day] are very important for any sort of football club that are trying to engage the town with the club. It's a chance for us to meet the fans and the fans to meet the players.

"We want to really have the togetherness, not just between the players, but with the fans. These types of days are brilliant for the community and everyone in the town.

"Since I came to the club the fans have been brilliant with me. We just want to show them and work as hard as we can to make the town proud of their football team.

"With the early signs that we've shown in pre-season and the togetherness that we've got, hopefully we can reflect the hard-working town with the hard-working team."

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Alex MacDonald's interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.


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