Mansfield boss John Dempster has reflected on a highly 'pleasing' pre-season training camp in Portugal, during which he says his players have been 'challenged.'
The Stags spent ten days in Amendoeira as part of their demanding pre-season trip, which included training matches against Glasgow Rangers and Championship side Swansea City.
John Dempster says that the camp was 'incredible' in terms of preparing his players for the new season.
“We got what we wanted out of the ten days – we put a lot of work into the boys, mainly physical work, and had two brilliant games against excellent opposition," said the boss, speaking after the narrow defeat to Championship side Swansea on Saturday.
“I’m really pleased with how the trip has gone. I’ve got to know the boys a bit better and they’ve been challenged over the last ten days.
“It [trip to Portugal] has been incredible for me. I’m a new manager, so to be part of a pre-season trip with such excellent facilities, I couldn’t ask for anymore.
“[We put in] two really good performances in the game against Rangers and today [Saturday] against Swansea, who are Championship opposition.
“I was disappointed to concede late goals in both halves [against Swansea], but there were plenty of positives.
“I was really impressed with the shape and how the players worked together to make sure there were no gaps for Swansea to play through.
“It was pleasing that Nicky Maynard got on the scoresheet. It was typical Nicky, a ball in the box which ends up with him, and he puts it into the back of the net.
“Our centre-forwards at the football club will want to be scoring goals, whether that be in training, pre-season games, or when we get down to the real business. It’s about good habits.
“Nicky clearly has good habits, which is why he has lasted a number of years in the game, and the reason why he has the record he has.
“With some of the build-up play, I’d like to see us be a bit more clinical in the final third with shots and crosses. But the general effort from every individual was there for all to see.”
The gaffer also spoke of the 'exceptional' support from the Stags' faithful, who flew out in their numbers to attend Friday's open training session and Saturday's clash against Swansea.
“It [playing each half with a different lineup] was about blending young and old. We managed to get both XIs out with a different blend.
“We’ll look to do a similar thing in the next pre-season games. Then it will be about getting the minute bank up, building into the Newport game on the opening day of the season.
“The support over the ten-day trip has been exceptional from the hardcore supporters, as I call them! To see them here today [Saturday] is really special.
“I’ve been at this football club for a long time, but when I see some of those supporters, they’ve been here even longer.
“It’s been great to see them [fans]. They’re in a vibrant mood and there is a good mood around the club in general.”
The manager also revealed that he is still looking to add 'two or three' players to his squad.
“It [transfer activity] is ongoing. It’s about being patient. If you look at the signings we’ve made, we’ve probably gone for quality over quantity, and that’s always been my aim and strategy.
“We’re still looking to add two or three [players]. But those players have to be right for the football club.
“I’m confident of making at least one more permanent signing in the early part of next week [commencing Monday 08 July].”
Following the news that tireless midfielder Alex MacDonald had returned to the UK early to have a precautionary scan on his knee, John Dempster revealed that the results from the scan returned clear.
“We got Macca [Alex MacDonald] straight home because he was quite emotional about where he felt he was with the injury.
“He said it felt very similar to the two times he has had problems before. But we’ve had some great news that the scan is clear. It’s given me and the squad a lift.
“Macca is dancing – he’s absolutely buzzing [with the scan results]. He’s a vibrant character and a real positive person in the dressing room.
“I’m really pleased for Macca. To see him when he was leaving for home, he was really down, but then speaking to him on the phone when we got the news was a real positive.”
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