Midfielder Ollie Clarke says he is ‘itching’ for the 2020/21 season to start, following a ‘long six months’ without competitive league football.
The Stags will begin their Sky Bet League Two campaign at home to Tranmere Rovers this Saturday, with Clarke hoping to feature after making his first competitive start for the amber and blue on Tuesday night, against Manchester City under-21s.
The 28-year-old says that recent game time – which included a stunning goal against Premier League Burnley in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the weekend – leaves him ‘ready to go’ for Saturday’s league clash.
“It’s been vital [for me to play in recent games],” he told iFollow Stags. “I obviously wanted to make the most of pre-season and hit the ground running, but that was hampered by a little injury.
“I’m glad to finally get out on the pitch and I’m feeling quite good, so just have to build on that now.
“I don’t feel too bad considering it’s been six months [since his last league game]. I’ve done a lot of work with the physio and I’ve been itching to get back out there.
“The result the other night [against Manchester City under-21s] wasn’t good enough and we know that we have to put that right on Saturday.
“I could’ve played more on Tuesday but it’s the first week of the season so didn’t want to burn myself out. I’m glad I got through it and I’m ready to push on now.
“Mentally, it’s been a long six months. But once I signed up here and committed to the move, I was ready to go as soon as possible.
“Once I got over that [small calf injury], I was itching for the season to start and now that we’re here, it’s all positive.”
Clarke was one of 11 new signings made by the Stags, and says that the new faces in the Mansfield camp are here with the aim of improving on past seasons.
“The club is very ambitious and you can tell that – the manager is driving it forward and the squad have had positive talks with the chairman [John Radford] and Carolyn [Radford].
“We’ve got a good squad here and a lot of new faces who want to try and do well. That’s what we want to do, try to improve on previous years and take this club one step further.
“It can take some time for us [new players] to get used to each other and for the manager to sort out his team, but once you get that time on the pitch together, you can adapt to how everyone wants to play.
“It might take a couple of games, but we know what our aim is and we want to try and build on what the team have done in previous years.
“Everyone is itching to get going and it’s a positive group of young lads. We all want to do well for ourselves and everyone is buying into the ideas of the manager. Everyone’s buzzing to get going.”
Having worked with current Stags’ boss Graham Coughlan at Bristol Rovers, Clarke described what the Mansfield manager expects from his players.
“We know what he [Graham Coughlan] likes is hard work and determination. Winning ugly is a massive factor because you’re not always going to go out and play well.
“You have to sometimes stick bodies on the line and I think we’ll be robust and hard to beat.
“A committed performance is what he expects – I remember at Bristol Rovers he got us up to fourth and we were flying at the time.
“We just need everyone to buy into his methods – it will be a really positive atmosphere and a great place to come and watch football.
There was also a message to the Mansfield fans from the midfielder: “Thanks [to the fans] for your support and for tuning in [to Stags’ matches on iFollow Stags] – we want you back in the stadium as soon as possible.
“Once that happens I hope that you can be here in your numbers to cheer us on and hopefully we’ll be in a good position.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Ollie’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
Match passes are available for Saturday’s game against Tranmere at just £10. To purchase your match pass, click here.