Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough believes his side is ‘definitely’ stronger than it was before the January transfer window.
The Stags signed forward Lucas Akins, versatile defender/ midfielder Kieran Wallace, attacker Jamie Murphy and midfielder Matty Longstaff and extended the contract of key performer John-Joe O’Toole.
Speaking to iFollow Stags, the boss reviewed the club’s business.
When asked if the squad is stronger than before January, the manager said: “Definitely, yes.
“Certainly, in terms of quality [it is]. In terms of quantity, we’ve trimmed it back a little bit numbers wise.
“I think when [some] of the [young] lads go out on loan [the squad will be trimmed nicely]. James Gale is ready to go out, Ryan Burke is ready to go out and Jason Law.
“Jason Law will only go out now because of [the introduction of deadline day signing] Matty Longstaff coming in at the last minute.
“That leaves us with the 18 outfield [players] that we wanted. George Lapslie is injured and will be for a little bit longer than we anticipated, but that still leaves us with a very good 17.”
The manager believes the Stags’ current run of form has helped to attract players with Premier League experience, such as Longstaff.
“When you are down towards the bottom [of Sky Bet League Two] and people have a look at the league, then inevitably people maybe [think you’re] fighting at the wrong end of the table,” he said.
“I think with the run [we’ve been on] and all of a sudden you win 25 points out of 27, which is incredible return, people look and think ‘they must be doing alright at the moment.’
“In Jamie Murphy’s case, we’ve worked with him a couple of times before [so know his quality].”
With the introductions of Longstaff and Murphy, the club’s two deadline day additions, the manager believes he has the personnel to adapt his system depending on the opposition.
“I think that [rotation] is what was highlighted on Tuesday [in the 0-0 draw away at Harrogate].
“The running stats, we could see without having them confirmed, but the running stats were down, for the midfield mainly.
“If the [new] lads had been available, they’d have probably played.
“If Lucas [Akins] was fit he would have definitely started, Kieran Wallace the same.
“Danny Johnson has not played a game since he’s come back from injury, James Perch is just coming back, so there’s four on the bench who couldn’t necessarily start and then the other two you’re left with are Jason Law and Ryan Burke.
“Jason Law struggled when we played there in the EFL Trophy, so there wasn’t a lot of options apart from to go with the same XI.
“When Lucas came on for half an hour and Kieran Wallace, it lifted us and gave us some fresh legs.
“Looking forward, certainly with the amount of quality, we can change three or four certainly if we’re playing Saturday, Tuesday we can get the [right] balance in the team.
“We put so much effort in [in games] and I think the supporters see that. When we beat Orient on Saturday, we had to work unbelievably hard and the emotions of breaking the record; to go again three days later is a big ask.
“So, if we can look at changing three or four players, we’ll be doing that.
“When we were missing nine or ten players most weeks, we struggled to win games.
“All of a sudden, we’ve just got Laps on the side-lines, Kellan is a bit more long-term and that’s it. We want it to stay like that.
“With 19 games to go, most of the lads are looking fit and strong at the moment and we’ll take our chances that it will stay like that for the next three months.”
The return of James Perch in recent weeks, after fracturing his skull, has given Mansfield further reinforcement as the club look to challenge for promotion.
“The way he [James Perch] headed that ball from a corner at Harrogate on Tuesday night is as much feedback as we needed [on how he’s coping with his return to playing],” said the boss.
“They [Harrogate] got a corner with a few minutes to go and Quinny was shattered, we just put him in there and he went and headed it as though he hadn’t been away at all.
“That was as much of a confirmation that we needed that he’s okay.”
The manager provided an update on defender Richard Nartey, on loan from Burnley.
“[The situation with] Richard is a funny one. We had a chat with Burnley, they have in the agreement the option to recall him, we didn’t have the option to send him back,” said the gaffer.
“Richard initiated it really and said ‘is it okay if I have a word with Burnley? I understand people are getting fit and Perchy is back and so look at going back and getting somewhere on loan’.
“I had a chat with Sean Dyche and what we’ve agreed is we keep his registration, so he’s still with us but he goes back to Burnley, plays for the 23s and trains with them.
“If we need him, we can call on him but essentially, he’s gone back to Burnley, apart from we keep his registration.
“I think it’s worked out well for everybody.”
Watch the manager’s interview in full now on iFollow Stags by clicking here.