Stags’ boss John Dempster has revealed that he plans to ‘freshen up’ Mansfield’s starting XI for tomorrow’s visit of Cambridge United to One Call Stadium.
The manager says that other players in the squad ‘deserve’ an opportunity to feature as the Stags go in search of their second successive home victory.
Ahead of Tuesday night’s Sky Bet League Two encounter, John Dempster has called for his players to perform with ‘freedom and passion.’
“The bonus of a Tuesday night game is if the Saturday hasn’t gone to plan, you get a chance to put it right quickly,” he said.
“We’re going to play on the front foot and get after Cambridge – it’s important we do that at home. There will be some changes and we’ll freshen it up.
“We want to give some other players the opportunity and it will be up to those players to grasp it and want to keep their shirt.
“We want to attack Cambridge and we want to have energy – we feel that certain players have been playing very well and deserve an opportunity.
“Playing Saturday then Tuesday can be tough physically so to freshen that up and bring in that enthusiasm is important.
“We’ve had quite a lot of disruption to the team with suspensions and injuries, but it’s safe to say we haven’t clicked yet. I expect that to happen very soon and it needs to happen very soon.
“We want to start moving up that league table. We’ve played less than ten games, but it’s important that, as a group, we start making a difference in those moments.
“We need to make sure that we’re fighting for those inches all over the pitch and then, over time, the quality will shine through.
“Work rate is everything. We’ve got to fight and encourage each other on a matchday and make sure that as a group, we’re bang at it.
“If we do that more consistently, the results will come. It’s up to us as a group to bring that quality out.
“We want to see our players play with freedom and passion, which our supporters want to see at home.”
The boss reflected on Saturday’s slender 1-0 defeat away at Crawley, adding that the Stags must ‘react’ to the loss in tomorrow’s fixture against the U’s.
“We wanted to be positive [at Crawley] and the plan was to get back-to-back wins after a good result last week against Scunthorpe,” he added.
“I think if you look at the final third entries and the shots, it paints a certain picture, but I don’t want to hide behind stats. The most important stats are the goals for and the goals against and we didn’t take the opportunities that we created.
“It’s about reacting in the right way on Tuesday night against Cambridge, who had a good result at Crewe. So that will be a challenge.
“They [Cambridge] have an experienced manager in Colin Calderwood. He’s had success in his playing career and as a manager, so we know that it will be a real challenge.
“They had a good result on Saturday against a team that’s in-form so they’ll be in a confident mood.”
With wing-back Hayden White and midfielder Willem Tomlinson missing from Saturday’s matchday squad, the manager provided updates on the duo, whilst confirming that striker Nicky Maynard will be missing from action for two to three weeks with a hamstring injury.
John Dempster also discussed the progress of forward Andy Cook, who he says ‘has a chance of being involved’ against Cambridge after recently suffering from a knee injury.
“Willem [Tomlinson] had an illness so we left him behind when we travelled to Crawley. Hayden White is getting back to his normal self now.
“He trained today [Monday] and he’s looking better. He still has a little bit of pain but he wants to train through it.
“We’ll be getting some additional work into him, but he’s not likely to feature tomorrow [Tuesday, against Cambridge]. He is likely to train all week.
“The physios aren’t too worried about Nicky [Maynard], they feel he’ll be out for around two to three weeks. He has a bit of a tweak in his groin/hamstring area. He felt it when he went for a ball on Saturday.
“He came off straight away because he didn’t want to make it any worse. It’s not a serious one, but we’re obviously disappointed to lose a player of Nicky’s quality.
“Cooky [Andy Cook] trained today and trained really well. He was netting in the small-sided games and looked confident.
“He probably needs to get his match fitness up, but he has a chance of being involved tomorrow in some capacity. He’s worked hard with the medical team over the last few weeks.”
The Mansfield chief continued his update on Stags’ injury list, speaking of long-term absentees goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik and forwards Craig Davies and Jordan Graham.
“The two long-term injuries are a work in progress and quite slow, with Davo [Craig Davies] and Jordan Graham.
“Bobby [Olejnik] was tired this weekend as he’s come back and gone straight into it. He’s played 45 minutes for the reserves and he’s been trained very hard.
“He had the weekend off but he’s come back today and we’ll hopefully get a 90-minute [reserve] game into Bobby before he can be in contention for the first team.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
To purchase tickets for Tuesday night’s home match against Cambridge, head to stagstickets.co.uk.