Boss Nigel Clough has said he will not make ‘too many’ changes for tomorrow’s first round Carabao Cup match at home to Championship side Preston North End, as he ‘loves’ the possibilities cup competitions can create.
The manager, speaking less than 48 hours after Stags’ dramatic 2-1 win over Bristol Rovers on the campaign’s opening day, looked ahead to Tuesday evening’s fixture, the reverse of last season’s first round clash.
Nigel Clough said that he wants to see his side maintain ‘an even share of the ball’ against the Championship outfit, but warned his players to prepare for a ‘reaction,’ following the Lilywhites’ surprise 4-1 defeat to Hull City on Saturday.
“We’re going to try and win the game,” he told iFollow Stags. “We’ll make a few changes, not too many, and they’ll be based on knocks and things.
“Then we have a couple of lads who are absolutely champing at the bit to play games, and George Lapslie is one. He’ll be starting.
“Not sure [if Preston will be at full strength] after Saturday [4-1 defeat to Hull City]. It’s difficult to tell, as it was a very surprising result.
“What we do expect is a reaction from them [Preston]. They’ll want to win a game and get Saturday out of their system.
“I hope we’ve got an even share of the ball tomorrow. I think that’s one of our strengths, our ability on the ball.
“We’ve seen from the [games against] Championship teams in pre-season, that when we’ve got it, we can cause problems as well.
“We possibly don’t keep it as well as them [Preston], but I’d expect us to have a decent amount of possession.
“I love cup competitions, I love them all. And we’ll go out to try and win [tomorrow]. All the teams have a chance of getting to Wembley or facing a big team, but you have to get through these early rounds.”
Reflecting on Saturday’s incredible opening day win against Bristol Rovers, which was sealed by Danny Johnson’s stoppage time penalty, the boss says the nature of the victory will take ‘some beating.’
“I’m just getting my breath back really [from Bristol Rovers win],” he added. “When you win a game, especially on the opening day with all the emotions of the fans returning, it [will have] took some beating winning in the 95th minute.
“It was great to win the game. It’s only one game, but it felt more than that. I think we can play better, but I understand that we may have been a little bit nervous.
“I remember quite a few years ago from [when I was] playing, those first day nerves take your breath away, and you’re gasping for oxygen at times no matter what you’ve done in pre-season.
“We found a way to win and restricted a good team to very few opportunities. I thought we were in control of the game up to the stunning strike [from Cian Harries] which came out of absolutely nowhere.
“It was good to have a referee [Joshua Smith] brave enough to give it [penalty] in the 95th minute. With the sending off [to Paul Coutts], he’s raised his arm and he [referee] is justified in both of his decisions.
“It [dressing room] was excitable [after the game] and euphoric, but there was also a realisation that we have to play better. I think we can get the ball down and play as we did in pre-season.”
With the boss still looking to bring another defender to One Call Stadium, he provided the latest update on the transfer front.
“It [signing a defender] is not quite straightforward. But we’re making progress.
“We have three weeks before the window shuts, so we’ll try to get it tied up as soon as we can.”
There was also news on defender Elliott Hewitt and midfielder Harry Charsley, who both missed Saturday’s win due to thigh injuries.
“I think they [Hewitt and Charsley] are still going to be missing [for Preston game] unfortunately. They’re not quite right yet.
“They’re getting there, maybe another week or something like that. We don’t want to risk them, so we’ll make sure they’re right before they come back.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.
To purchase tickets for Tuesday’s cup clash against Preston North End, head to stagstickets.co.uk.