Club captain Ollie Clarke says that the impact of new boss Nigel Clough has put ‘smiles back on faces’ within the Mansfield camp.
Following a recent calf injury, the former Bristol Rovers midfielder made his first appearance in five-and-a-half weeks on Tuesday evening, which was also Nigel Clough’s first game in charge of the Stags.
Clarke, who appeared as a 73rd-minute substitute in the win over Scunthorpe, says he is looking forward to his future under the new manager.
“I’ve played against his [Nigel Clough’s] teams before and they’ve always done well,” he told iFollow Stags. “I, for one, was really looking forward to it straight away as I understand that he enjoys hard work and people who put their bodies on the line.
“That’s something I like to do myself. I look forward to the hard work and I’m hoping that he likes me as a player.
“The intensity of training has probably been ramped up a bit. Monday was an enjoyable session and he just has everyone with a smile on their face and back enjoying it.
“That’s what you need. When you’ve been on a bit of a bad run, you just need to go back to basics, get smiles back on faces and get everyone working for each other.
“When someone new comes in, everyone steps up to the plate and probably improves their game by ten or 15 percent.
“I don’t think it’s something players do on purpose, but they try a little harder and look to get a bit more out of themselves, as they want to impress the new manager.
“The immediate reaction when a new manager comes in is that it’s a clean slate. Everyone’s fighting to get in the team.
“The lads are buzzing that he [Nigel Clough] has come in because of his previous experiences.”
The 28-year-old revealed he has now ‘100 percent’ recovered from his calf injury, and is now focused on re-building his match fitness after over a month on the sidelines.
“It was enjoyable [to be back on the pitch],” he added. “It was a little ahead of schedule in terms of my [planned] return so I was pleased with that.
“When the manager said I’d be involved on Tuesday, I was buzzing because I wasn’t expected to be in contention so soon.
“I knew as soon as the injury happened, it wasn’t going to be as bad [as first thought]. I kicked on with my rehab fairly early and started running two or three weeks ago.
“I just gradually built it up and it [calf] didn’t react [badly] to anything that we’d done, so it was nice to get the nod to train on Monday.
“To go straight back into playing a game on Tuesday was really good. It was a good feeling.
“In terms of the injury I’d say I’m 100 percent there. It’s just the match fitness – I think that will come in two or three games, I’m naturally quite fit anyway.
“Match sharpness is probably lacking a little bit, so hopefully I can pick minutes up as we move forward.”
Speaking on a personal note, Clarke says there is ‘a lot more to come’ from him this season.
“At the start of the season, we probably didn’t hit the ground running like we wanted to.
“Against Newport we picked up in the second-half, which is when I did my injury. I thought we looked after the ball a lot better but unfortunately, we didn’t see out the win.
“Personally, I think there’s a lot more to come from me once I get myself fully match fit. I’m hoping to do that over the coming weeks and push on from there.
“I like to get up and down the pitch in search of the ball, so I’m hoping I can get the minutes in earlier rather than later, as I’m itching to get back involved and help the boys out.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Ollie’s interview in full on mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
Match passes are available for Saturday’s fixture against Forest Green, and can be purchased for just £10 here.