Manager Nigel Clough says he feels ‘even more excited’ than usual ahead of the start of the 2021/22 campaign, which gets under way at home to Bristol Rovers on Saturday.
The Stags welcome the Gas to One Call Stadium for a 3pm kick-off, a game that sees supporters return for a competitive fixture in NG18 for the first time in 540 days.
Speaking ahead of the big kick-off, the boss revealed that Stags’ players ‘can’t wait to get started.’
“We’re excited,” he told iFollow Stags. “Everyone is looking forward to the season. I think we’re always excited with the anticipation of a new season, but with the way it’s been for the last 18 months, I think it’s even more so this year.
“It’s always the same tingle of excitement [before a season] and you want to get off to a good start.
“The first game of the season is like a cup final really, so it’s important that we try to relax and play our football.
“Seeing the lads in training on Monday and Tuesday, I don’t think they can wait to get started.
“We’re very pleased with the players that have come in and we’re pleased with the way we finished last season as well – I think that’s important.
“The new players have integrated well so far and the lads who were here and part of that good finish to the season have helped things along.
“Pre-season was a bit disrupted early on when we lost those players who were isolating. But they have worked incredibly hard to catch up and most of the lads have got good minutes.
“We’ve been very encouraged by what we’ve seen [in pre-season]. If the supporters see the determination and hard work being put in by a team and some good football as well, I think they’ll get right behind that and respond to that.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s clash, the manager revealed that he has a ‘pretty good idea’ of his starting lineup for the game, as well as providing a brief word on this weekend’s opponents.
“We have a pretty good idea [of Saturday’s starting XI] but it’s not set in stone, as quite a bit can happen in that time,” he added. “That’s one of the things you look to establish in pre-season [best starting XI].
“Whatever team we start with, it could be a different team in a month or two months’ time, because that’s the nature of football.
“[Bristol Rovers have done] a lot of good business. I don’t think they’ll be making any bones about what their ambitions are this season. They’ll be expected to and expecting themselves to challenge for promotion.
“They have a manager with good experience now [Joey Barton] and the size of the club will demand that they are there or thereabouts.
“I know we’ve sold a great number of season tickets and I think they [Bristol Rovers] will sell out their allocation, which is great as it will make for a good atmosphere. It’s a brilliant first game for us and hopefully the players can perform as they did at the end of last season.”
With the season’s curtain-raiser just around the corner, Nigel Clough discussed the depth of his squad, and revealed that there may be more business to conduct ahead of the transfer window’s closure at the end of August.
“I think if we could do a little more business with one or maybe two more coming in, with one or two maybe going out, I think that would be good.
“We’ll be looking to do that in the next four weeks, but if we don’t, we’re very happy with what we’ve got in place.
“I think we’re a defender light for some cover, which we’ve spoken about in the last few weeks, but we’re pleased with the ones we’ve got.
“We’re most excited about the front six or seven players that we’ve got. I think we have an exciting forward line and we’ll be set up to attack and to score goals. The emphasis will be on that.
“All of the players have something different to offer, which is very important and exciting.”
The boss also provided an injury update on midfielder Harry Charsley, who will miss Saturday’s big match.
“Harry Charsley is the only one [out for the game], as he has a thigh problem. So he’ll definitely be missing.
“He’ll probably be about another ten days to two weeks, something like that. He’s had some bad luck over the summer with injuries and whatnot.
“He’s the only one that’s definitely out. Everybody else, we hope will be available.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.
Tickets are on sale now for Saturday’s big kick-off, and can be purchased online via stagstickets.co.uk.