Stags’ defender David Mirfin has hailed the ‘brilliant support’ he has received from the club on his road to recovery, as he moves towards his return to football.
Mirfin, who has been out of action for over a year due to a knee injury, has been recently integrated into training sessions with Mansfield’s reserves.
The defender says that after a ‘frustrating’ year, he has his sights set on completing 45 minutes in a reserve fixture in the coming weeks.
Speaking on Thursday afternoon, he said: “It [year without football] has been very frustrating. You realise how much you love playing.
“When you’re watching the games, you want to be out there. It’s been a really tough year, but I’ve had so much support from family and friends, and the club have been brilliant.
“I’ve had another good session [today] with the under-21s and a few of the pros who didn’t play the other day. It’s good to get more miles into my legs.
“I’ve been back for probably about five weeks now, I’m just building to hopefully 45 minutes in a reserve game.
“With the Christmas period, when the first lads haven’t been in, it’s been good to build up my fitness with the under-21s.
“In a normal week, I’ve been with the first team, but when there have been games I’ve been with the under-21s to keep that fitness up.
"It’s been a really tough year, but I’ve had so much support from family and friends, and the club have been brilliant."
“I think a lot of it [return to first team] will depend on how I feel after that first 45 minutes in the reserve game. It’s just a case now of timing the game right with my training.”
Stags currently boast the best defensive record in Sky Bet League Two this season, having conceded just 16 goals in 24 matches.
The 33-year-old says that the impressive back-line is something he wants to be a part of, and added that the difference between the fitness of the Stags’ players now compared to when he last played for the amber and blue is ‘massive.’
“I’ve seen how fit the lads are,” he added. “My marker is what we were like last season when I was playing, and the improvement in fitness and how we go into games is massive.
“The stats prove it [defence] is the best in the division, and to only have lost one game at this stage is a massive compliment to the lads and how hard they’re working.
“They always say a successful side is built on a good defence and that’s what we’ve definitely got at the moment.
“[Breaking back into the first team is a] massive [challenge], probably the biggest of my career. You look at how fit, how strong, how organised, and the results that we’re getting, it’s something that you want to be a part of.”
The three-time promotion winner also spoke of his adoration for Mansfield Town, noting that the club is set up for a successful season.
“I can’t explain how much I love it here. I can’t imagine how much I’d enjoy it if I was playing! Ever since I walked into the building, the staff, the fans, the players – and I think that comes down from the chairman and Carolyn – they make you feel so welcome.
“I think if anything, everything is more set up [than my time at Huddersfield or Scunthorpe] to achieve it [promotion].
“With the players that the gaffer has brought in, it’s all geared up. It’s such a solid group. People come in and know their jobs and roles, everything is geared up for a successful season.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the defender’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.