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Bishop feeling ‘really refreshed’ ahead of final furlong

21 March 2019

Stags’ midfielder Neal Bishop says he feels fully prepared for the eight ‘cup finals’ remaining in Sky Bet League Two, starting with Crewe Alexandra on Saturday.

The 37-year-old revealed that manager David Flitcroft gave him an extra day of rest last week, something that Bishop feels has mentally benefited him.

He also discussed the excitement of being involved in another promotion push this season.

“I had a chat with the manager after the Port Vale game, and I have to be honest I felt mentally fatigued,” Bishop explained.

“He said to me ‘look, have an extra day off,’ and I didn’t really want to, but it certainly helped – probably mentally more than physically.

“I’ve come back feeling really refreshed. When you’re not here, you wish you were. You sort of reset yourself and get yourself back right to go again.

“With the Crawley and Lincoln games I felt back to how I was. It’s important that I reset myself because there are eight cup finals to come.

“It’s eyes down for the final run-in now. I feel back to myself. Looking back, I probably did need that bit of time.

“It [promotion] means everything. We’re aware of what it means to the club, to everyone behind the scenes, and the supporters who have backed us.

“There are so many people we want to do this for. The club has backed us all season. It’s all positive – there are eight games to look forward to and we’re in third.

“It’s fantastic for us as players to be involved in the run-in and it’s something that we have to grasp with both hands.

“We’re aware that’s the last game [MK Dons], but it’s dangerous to look that far ahead. If we look that far ahead, we’d be disrespecting our next opponents.

"With the Crawley and Lincoln games I felt back to how I was. It’s important that I reset myself because there are eight cup finals to come."

Neal Bishop, midfielder

“These are the seasons you want to be involved in as a player and there is nothing to fear. It’s all there in front of us and the spirit in the dressing room has been fantastic all season.”

Ahead of Saturday’s clash against Crewe, Bishop says that Mansfield are looking forward to playing in front of the home support, yet will be wary of the Railwaymen’s threat.

“The emphasis on any home team is to get out and attack and get on the front foot. I think that’s when we’re at our best.

“The crowd here [One Call Stadium] have been with us all season and have been fantastic. They sense when we need a lift.

“The ground staff, you have to give them massive credit, because you can get the ball down and play here.

“We enjoy playing at home. A key for any successful team is to make your home your fortress and we need to do that for the remaining games.

“We’re strong at the back so we can usually cope with teams coming at us. When teams come and try and stifle you, any team finds that difficult.

“Crewe will probably come and have a go on Saturday. We’ll respect them as the good football team that they are.

“There’s no real danger of them going down, so it’s a free game for them. They’ll want to showcase themselves, and individually, they have a lot of good players.

“We don’t disrespect anyone in this league and we’ll certainly be respectful of the threat that they will pose on Saturday.”

The midfielder also reflected on Monday night’s 1-1 draw with table toppers Lincoln, something he described as a ‘proper game of football.’

“It [Lincoln clash] was a proper game of football. It mattered so much to both teams and it was 100 miles per hour from minute one.

“We were positive and really took the game to them. The penalty is what it is but I don’t think they caused us many problems over the 90 minutes.

“You never dismiss a point, and Lincoln are sat at the top of the league. We’ll take a point as it moves us back into third.

“We have eight games left and we’re in the automatic promotion places – I don’t see any reason to be negative.”

Willem Tomlinson, who signed for the Stags in January, has been dubbed as the ‘mini-Bish’ by his Mansfield teammates.

Bishop says that the amber and blue are ‘lucky’ to have the former Blackburn midfielder.

“Will [Tomlinson] is a great lad, you can see why the gaffer has brought him in. He’s full of energy, has a pass on him, and likes to put his foot in.

“Whoever I’m playing with, it’s important in that position to act as a base and allow your team to go and play.

“Will [Tomlinson] is a really nice lad and he wants to learn. Coming in during January can be hard, but with the games he has played, he’s adjusted really quickly.

“He’s a good lad and he’s settled in really well. He has some good banter on him as well, to be fair!

“For a young lad, he’s not afraid to pick a pass. But he’s good on the other side of the game too, as he’ll put the work in.

“I think we’re lucky to have him. The longer he’s here, I think we’ll see a really good player that we’ve got on our hands.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the midfielder’s interview in full by logging into later today.

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