Assistant manager Lee Glover has encouraged the Stags to ‘stake a claim’ for a place in the team in Mansfield’s final two pre-season clashes, before the Sky Bet League Two season begins on Saturday 03 August.
The amber and blue will face Nottingham Forest under-23s and Rangers under-23s at One Call Stadium on Tuesday night (7.45pm) and Saturday afternoon (1pm), respectively.
The assistant boss says he challenges the Stags to ‘make sure’ they are in the team for the first match of the 2019-20 campaign away to Newport.
“They [Nottingham Forest under-23s] will come and try to play football,” he began. “It will be a high energy game, because they make up with effort for what they might not have in experience.
“I always say that we’ll focus on ourselves first. We want to see if we can create chances, go forward and be a threat, but obviously defensively be right.
“We’ll be working on us today and making sure that we perform how we want to.
“For me, that’s the same message going into every game. We want to look after ourselves and try and get ourselves right first.
“We’ll look at the opponents and work on what they do, but in the main we’ll make sure we’re right and playing how we want to play.
“We’re building up for Newport and these games are the games where people need to stake a claim – that’s what we’re trying to reinforce with the group.
“You want to do what’s best for you, and that’s to get in the team. That’s what we’re saying to them: make sure you’re in the team.”
Reflecting on Saturday’s encouraging 2-2 draw with Championship side Hull City, the assistant manager says that the Stags ‘finished the game really strongly,’ while also praising the performance of attacking midfielder Otis Khan.
“I thought we finished the [Hull] game really strongly. In the first-half we could’ve passed the ball better.
“In the second-half – I know we had a bad start – but the lads showed a lot of character, got on the ball and played well.
“We created some chances, and you could see the response from the crowd because the lads were having a go. We played some good football and it was nice to see.
“I think he [Khan] was excellent on Saturday. We asked him if he can drift into pockets and pick up possession, and we want to encourage him to do that.
“We want to encourage him even when he makes mistakes, because he can create stuff, and we have players ahead of him that can score goals. He looks sharp, and we want to develop that.”
Lee Glover also revealed that the Stags are no longer pursuing the three trialists who featured in last Wednesday’s defeat to Blackburn Rovers, but added that Mansfield are still actively looking to get deals over the line.
“We’re no longer pursuing them [three trialists who featured against Blackburn]. They were unlucky, particularly the right-back, who did very well.
“We want to try and improve it [squad], but we thought at this time they weren’t right for us.
“We’re trying to work on a few things – we don’t want to say too much before we get anything over the line.
“We’re always looking to improve the squad and the chairman [John Radford] has been great by backing us.
“We might get something over the line this week, but it has to be the right person to improve the squad. We don’t want to bring in fillers, we want to bring in players that will improve the team.
“We have a trialist in today [Monday], so we’ll just see how he goes.
“There are loads of players [available] and the wage demands are getting a bit more realistic as we approach the start of the season.
“There are a whole host of players out of contracts looking for clubs, and we are a very attractive club. We’re in a good position.
“There is enough in the building here to win a game of football, and that’s what we want.”
The assistant boss also provided updates on midfielder Willem Tomlinson and goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik, who are recovering from their respective injuries.
“I think he [Tomlinson] might be back quicker [than four weeks]. He’s a young lad who responds to treatment.
“We were disappointed because Will was looking really good in pre-season. We were liking the way he was shaping up, but these things happen and it gives opportunities for other players to stake a claim.
“Bobby [Olejnik] is coming on great [with his recovery], he’s around it and we just have to take our time with it.”
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