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Interviews

Promotion hunt a ‘great’ kind of pressure

18 April 2019

Stags’ boss David Flitcroft has said that the race for automatic promotion is a ‘great pressure to be under,’ ahead of a potentially pivotal Easter weekend schedule.

Mansfield welcome Morecambe to One Call Stadium on Good Friday, before travelling north to face Oldham Athletic on Easter Monday.

The manager says that his players have ‘committed’ to the week of preparation ahead of two big matches in Sky Bet League Two.

“We’ve had a really good week,” he said. “The players have really enjoyed being out on the grass. We’ve been over to Loughborough college, and it’s a brilliant place.

“I said to the boys ‘don’t waste this opportunity,’ because we were on a fantastic surface, and they didn’t. We’ve had a couple of good sessions this week.

“I’ve been able to reset the players and refocus them to the playing style and how we want to operate. It’s been good and the lads have committed to it.

“In the latter stage of the season, there is no time to make that mistake now, your actions have to be pristine.

“In big games, we’ve turned up. On the training ground, I see a real energy and a real enthusiasm to be out there.

“The players enjoy coming in and they do enjoy working for Mansfield Town. That spirit and togetherness goes a long way. Unity always goes a long way.

“They like each other, but more importantly, they respect each other. In a football club, you can run an environment based on levels of respect.

“It [promotion race] is a great pressure to be under. Our destiny is in our hands. The work that we’ve put in this season has been relentless from everyone concerned.”

David Flitcroft says his charges are looking forward to being back in front of the Mansfield faithful on Friday afternoon, while also adding that the Easter weekend fixtures could be influential, but not season-defining.

“In my short management career, when we talk about defining, we stayed up on the last day of the season at Barnsley,” said the manager.

“I believed in that faith that everyone stuck to the plan until the very last whistle. I have that belief [now], it’s exactly the same.

“With us playing MK Dons on the last day of the season, it does give us both that opportunity.

“It [promotion race] is a great pressure to be under. Our destiny is in our hands. The work that we’ve put in this season has been relentless from everyone concerned.”

David Flitcroft, manager

“I’ve just been reaffirming the work we’ve done this season. The game against Northampton didn’t really resemble us, and I didn’t enjoy many parts of the game.

“We got into a battle with Northampton, and they are good at what they do. We got dragged into that, and that’s something we’ve spoken to the players a lot about this week.

“We’re at home [against Morecambe] and we love playing at home. We’ve enjoyed playing at home and our record is phenomenal there.

“We’re glad to be back on our pitch and we have to really motivate our supporters to get behind us, as they have been fantastic.

“I do believe when our fans have been behind us, we’ve been brilliant this season.”

The manager also went into further detail about what the Easter weekend will look like for his players.

“They [Morecambe] are a Jim Bentley team and they epitomise him and his character. He’s a brilliant operator, and they’ve competed with and beaten some of the top teams this season.

“We don’t underestimate anyone. We’ve fully prepared our team this week and refocused them, to understand what it means for the players to come out this weekend and represent our supporters.

“It isn’t really an Easter weekend [for us], it’s just a working weekend. We’ll get eyes on the boys on Saturday, which will be a recovery session.

“The players that don’t get the game time will do a football-specific session to get them ready for Monday. Sunday will be a preparation and shape session to get ready for Monday.

“We’ve had a bit of everything this season, and the lads have committed to it. We’re working, and it doesn’t really matter if it’s Easter weekend.”

Ahead of the Good Friday fixture, the Stags’ boss provided injury updates on defender Ben Turner and Otis Khan, whilst also speaking about midfielder Neal Bishop.

“We’re in a good place [injury-wise]. It will probably be a bit too close for Turns [Turner] and Otis for Friday. They have moved to field-based training now from being in the gym.

“Maybe we’ll have them for Monday. The rest are the long-term injuries that we all know about, and behind-the-scenes they are all working incredibly hard.

“On Tuesday, he [Otis] got out on the grass and had a little bit of an impingement on his hip. We’re hoping today that he gets out on the grass and his movement is more fluid. He could be in contention for Monday.

“His [Neal Bishop’s] training loads had to come down. But that’s the case with any player that’s coming through a twinge or a light injury.

“Bish is round-the-clock and everything he does is to the maximum. When you take him out of training, it doesn’t sit well with him, because he wants to be out there.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.


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