Manager Nigel Clough has challenged his side to provide the supporters with ‘something to keep the faith’ at home to Port Vale on Tuesday evening.
The Stags will be seeking a return to winning ways at One Call Stadium, but will face a Port Vale side with four wins from their last five league games.
Nigel Clough says he is aware that ‘patience wears thin’ in football, but appreciates the ‘level of understanding’ from supporters due to the Stags’ seemingly ever-growing list of absentees.
“I think it’s 23 years ago this week since we first started in the management business,” he told iFollow Stags. “I’ve been directly involved, playing and managing, for nearly 40.
“We’ve had some ups and downs over those times, and you know when certain circumstances conspire against you, patience wears thin very quickly in football.
“We’re under no illusions about that. We know that there have been mitigating circumstances, but that won’t count for much unless we start getting results sooner or later.
“What we were doing six to eight weeks ago, when we won our first two games, we’re doing the same sort of things as we were doing then.
“I think the circumstances we’ve encountered [here] have been nothing like what we’ve had over the years. With the combination of injuries, suspensions and decisions, that’s what we’ve found most difficult to fathom.
“We like being here, we think it’s a good club. We have good owners [John and Carolyn Radford] and David [Sharpe] is probably one of the best chief execs in the country.
“The supporters from the day we came in have been absolutely brilliant and we want to try and get success for the club.
“The best thing about it [my time at the club] is there has been a level of understanding from the vast majority of supporters to our plight and our situation.
“I think that’s why they’ve stuck with us. We have to give them something now to keep that faith with us, and that starts tomorrow night.
“We’re fully aware of the hopes and expectations of the club. Everybody would like us to be up there challenging, which we hoped we would be. We can still do it, we just need a couple of breaks and three points sooner rather than later.”
One boost for the Stags on Tuesday night is the return of experienced midfielder Stephen Quinn following a six-game suspension.
“I think it [return of Stephen Quinn] gives everybody a big lift,” said the boss. “Certainly the squad, as in training over the past few weeks when he’s been suspended, the players see his quality.
“Our best players are our most experienced players, and there’s a reason why they [Quinn and James Perch] have played at the highest level.
“We miss Perchy every single game and every single day in training. Having Quinny back on the pitch will certainly lift everybody.”
Nigel Clough also looked ahead to Tuesday’s Sky Bet League Two fixture at home to Port Vale.
“We put Saturday [loss against Northampton] behind us very quickly. There’s no point in lingering on that, as we had three days then we have another game.
“It’s an opportunity, like every game, to get three points and put a performance on. We want the players out there tomorrow night to say, ‘we know we were below par on Saturday, but we’re going to fight and scrap,’ as I am as a manager and we are as staff.
“I think they [Port Vale] have had a brilliant start under Darrell Clarke. When we played them at the end of last season, we were absolutely superb, and since then he has changed the whole lot [squad] around.
“I think they have a great chance of staying up there [top end of the table]. It’ll be nice to see Mal [Benning] and Stoney [Aidan Stone], as they are two good lads.
“They [Vale] are on a high at the moment. But it won’t take too much for us to be back on a high as well. We just need players back and results.”
The manager also provided the latest team news ahead of the clash against the Valiants.
“We have a couple of doubts through injury, with George Maris [who has concussion] and Stephen McLaughlin, who came off [against Northampton] with a bad ankle.
“It’ll be ironic if he [McLaughlin] doesn’t make it, as he’s the one who has missed Stephen Quinn the most over the last six games. One of the features of the great performances early on was the link-up play between those two down the left-hand side.
“Will Forrester has a chest infection and Rhys Oates also has a chest infection. It comes across as COVID symptoms but they’ve both had PCRs [tests] which have returned negative.
“I think Kellan [Gordon] is close to a return. If all goes well, it’s hoped he’ll be back in training at the end of this week.
“I don’t think Richard Nartey and Ryan Stirk will make it [return soon]. Although the good news is that Ryan Stirk has had the plastic [protective] boot taken off his foot. We hope to get him back training with us as soon as possible.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
Tickets for Tuesday night’s match at home to Port Vale are available to purchase online via stagstickets.co.uk.