Stags’ boss Graham Coughlan has conceded that Saturday’s game at Preston North End will be ‘hard’ without the Mansfield fans in attendance, but that the amber and blue will ‘give a good account of themselves’ at Deepdale.
The manager spoke to iFollow Stags on Thursday morning ahead of his side’s first competitive fixture of the new season this weekend.
He discussed his side’s eagerness to ‘make a name for themselves’ in the North West on Saturday.
“We can’t wait to get going and we’re looking forward to Saturday,” he began. “It’s been a long, long time [since we’ve played competitively], but we’re getting close to our first competitive game.
“The adrenaline starts to kick in and we can’t wait to get going. You miss that adrenaline rush and the atmosphere.
“Saturday will be different – it will be hard as we won’t have the fans. But there will be a competitive edge, and you do miss that competitive side of the game.
“We’ll give a good account of ourselves [on Saturday] and the lads are looking forward to it. Let’s go, enjoy it, do our best, and see where we are at five o’clock on Saturday.
“Make no mistake, we want to win the game. We’re going down there to try and make a name for ourselves.
“We want to get through it injury-free, but if there’s a tackle to be made, we’ll tackle, if there’s a header to be won, we’ll win it.”
Ahead of the weekend’s Carabao Cup first round tie, the boss provided an update on his squad.
“At this moment in time there are one or two [players] that I probably won’t risk,” he added. “There are a number of players that haven’t played 90 minutes, so I’m hoping Saturday will be their first and they come through unscathed.
“Squad selection at this moment in time, I haven’t really made my mind up. I like the way we looked in the first 60 minutes [against Rotherham].
“But there are one or two banging on my door and pushing to play, but I can’t – as I say – run the risk of losing players.
“My main worry is the lack of 90 minutes, given this Saturday was supposed to be our fourth pre-season friendly.
“Yes, it’s not ideal, but I hope we come through it injury-free. I think Alex Neil [Preston manager] will be saying the same – you don’t want to be picking up injuries at this time of the season.”
Graham Coughlan also reflected on Stags’ pre-season campaign, stating that his players could not have ‘worked any harder.’
“We have certainly got closer – we’ve put a lot of hard work in and there is structure and organisation [within the squad].
“We have done a lot on the training ground and had a couple of entertaining games.
“We’re still growing, but I’ve enjoyed pre-season. It was a hard pre-season and it was great pulling each other through various challenges.
“I do think there is a team spirit and bond growing and building in the changing room.
“I don’t quite know where we are fitness-wise, because we haven’t had a [competitive] 90-minute game yet. We’ll know where we are after the game on Saturday.
“I don’t think they could’ve worked any harder and I don’t think I could’ve asked any more of them. They have been hard-working and I’m really pleased in what they have given over pre-season.”
And, in these unprecedented times in the football world, the Stags’ chief spoke of the differences his side will encounter compared to a typical away day at Deepdale this weekend.
“We’re going to go with one coach, but it’s a bigger coach, 82 seats. The coach company separate the seats – the players will be upstairs and the staff will be downstairs.
“Masks will be worn on the coach as well and briefings will have to be held in smaller groups.
“But the be-all and end-all is when you run out of the tunnel on Saturday and don’t see any fans.
“That will be the biggest factor – I think the lads can live with the social distancing on the coach and the face masks.
“The biggest thing on Saturday will be running out to an empty stadium – I think that’s when it will hit us the hardest.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Graham Coughlan’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.
Saturday’s game against Preston North End is available to view live on iFollow Stags for just £10. To purchase your match pass, click here.