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Competitive squad is a good headache to have – boss

15 February 2022

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough admits it’s ‘great’ to have such a high calibre of squad at his disposal.

The boss believes he currently has the ‘strongest bench’ he’s had all season.

Speaking at a news conference today, the manager discussed his pleasure at having such quality within the group whilst having a suitable number of players available.

“I think in the last couple of games we’ve probably had the strongest bench we’ve had all season and it’s great,” he said.

“That was the idea when we were trimming the squad down for January.

“We’ve got the 18 [first team outfield players] in which we don’t mind starting anyone of them at any time, especially with March and April being as hectic as they are.

“It’s lovely when you look round and you have to change something, or you’ve got to bring a sub on, and you see the faces that are back there now.”

When asked if it can be difficult to manage expectations from the players, the boss said: “In some ways.

“On Saturday we made three changes, one was enforced in Stephen McLaughlin but the other two we left Ryan Stirk and George Maris out and we were able to bring the captain back, Ollie Clarke, and a Premier League midfielder in Matty Longstaff.

“That’s a lovely position to be in.

“It’s not so apparent now as we’re playing Saturday and then Saturday, but honestly when we get into March with 15 games left in March, April and the first week in May, that’s when we’re really going to need them [substitutes].”

The manager’s men travel to Rodney Parade this weekend to face seventh placed Newport County.

“It’s an uncomfortable place to go and play football,” he said.

“Despite a couple of hick-ups in recent games, they are certainly one of the best sides in this league.

“It’ll test our defensive resolve; we’ve only conceded once in the last four games.”

The manager felt his side needed to take advantage of their dominance in periods of the 0-0 draw away at Bristol Rovers on Saturday.

He said: “We said to the players before Bristol Rovers on Saturday: ‘let’s try and replicate as much as we can the way we play at home’.

“That’s why I was disappointed because we had the control, but we didn’t make it count in the first-half.

“If we’d had a home game with the way the first-half went then we’d have got a goal or two.”

The gaffer provided an update on the fitness of full-back Stephen McLaughlin who missed the trip to Bristol Rovers.

“He [McLaughlin] should be fine. He’s ready to train this week providing he has no issues or headaches or anything this week, he’ll be available for Saturday.

“We missed him [against Bristol Rovers] we missed the balance he gives us on that left-hand side.

“We missed the link-up play with Stephen Quinn and certainly his delivery and his driving into the box.”

The boss also delivered news on the fitness of some of his other squad members ahead of the clash with Newport.

“We’re hoping to have pretty much everybody [fit]. George Lapslie is going to begin training next week which is good.

“He’ll be doing one to one stuff this week and building up his thigh.

“Kellan Gordon is obviously still out.

“Rhys Oates is a doubt for Saturday. We will see how he is nearer the weekend.

“If not, we hope to have everybody else available.”

Watch the manager’s interview now by clicking here.

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