Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough welcomes the test of hosting Hartlepool United for ‘one of the biggest games of the season’ on Boxing Day.
The Stags’ match against the Pools will be Mansfield’s first in over two weeks after last weekend’s scheduled match at Forest Green Rovers was postponed.
Speaking to iFollow Stags, the boss highlighted the traditional significance of the festive fixture.
“Boxing Day is one of those things that is engrained in football. The Boxing Day fixture is one of the biggest of the season [and] one of the biggest crowds,” he said.
“Everybody has a nice Christmas Day at home and then a lot of people want to go to football on Boxing Day. It’s imperative that we try and keep that [tradition] in place.”
Sunday’s visitors, Hartlepool, visit One Call Stadium this weekend for the first time since 2017.
“I was pleased for them when they got promoted,” said the manager.
“They had been out [of the EFL] for too long and they’re a good enough club to be up there.
“A lot of work and effort has gone to get them back in there.
“We ‘pinched’ one of their strikers in the summer, Rhys Oates, and I think another one, Armstrong, went to Harrogate. Probably the two best attacking threats they had.
“They’re holding their own [in Sky Bet League Two].”
Due to positive Covid test in the Forest Green squad, the Stags were unable to play their scheduled fixture last week at Forest Green, a match the manager was disappointed not to see go ahead.
“We wanted to play. When you’re in the run [of form] that we’re in you want to keep playing.
“Everybody was disappointed when the game was called off.
“I think the vast majority in the country were [disappointed at games being postponed] but we were looking forward to going down there and continuing our good run.”
The manager hopes the Stags’ run of nine victories from ten matches will extend during the festive period.
The boss gave an update on whether some of the squad’s recent absentees would be available for the games.
“John-Joe O’Toole is back and available again after illness, so that’s a bonus for us.
“Everybody has trained this morning [Tuesday] and they’re clear on the lateral flow tests.
“Danny Johnson is not quite joining in in training. He’s doing a lot of one-to-one work at the moment.
“He’s [Johnson] doing ball work but he’s not quite up to joining in.
“Will Forrester is doing well, he’s back at Stoke having treatment and doing his rehab.
“His loan is actually up so we’re negotiating that, we’ll see how he does.”
Watch the gaffer’s interview in full later today at: mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.