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We appreciate the supporters’ backing – manager

23 February 2022

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough says the Stags’ supporters will always ‘be a help to us’ ahead of this weekend’s sold out away clash with Bradford City.

Over 2,000 Mansfield fans are set to back the boss’ side at Utilita Energy Stadium on Saturday.

Speaking at a news conference yesterday (Tuesday), the 55-year-old says he was ‘keen’ to display his thanks to the travelling supporters at Newport last weekend as they helped the team earn a hard-fought point with ten men.

“We were keen to go over and thank them [the supporters] on Saturday,” said the manager.

“They might be disappointed in the end with a 1-1 but I think most [fans] will realise it was a good point in the circumstances.

“Whether they’re in three, four, five hundred at Newport [or] 2,000 odd at Bradford, we appreciate it [the supporters’ backing] and they’ll be a help as always to us.”

The Stags face Bradford without the centre-back pairing of John-Joe O’Toole and Oli Hawkins due to suspension.

“We lost two points. We lost the two centre-halves for two and three games respectively,” the boss said.

“It was not a good day from that point of view.

“We should have been edging closer to that top three after Saturday.

“The performance was as well as we’ve played away from home for some time.

“To create the amount of chances that we did [was excellent].

“If we’d kept 11 men on the pitch, and not done anything silly, I think we would’ve won the game.”

The gaffer will now explore his defensive options with the absence of Hawkins and O’Toole.

“Everything is on the table, looking towards Bradford and next week,” he said.

“We’ll see how we go. We’ve got other options, including changing the formation which we did again on Saturday.

“We’re trying to set up to play as close to as we do at home, away from home.”

Versatile performer Lucas Akins impressed last weekend in south Wales and the boss praised the 32-year-old’s unselfish forward play.

“I think he was [superb].

“Playing the two off him; George Maris and Matty Longstaff, worked quite well.

“It all depends on him [Akins] getting hold of the ball and then bringing them into play, I thought he did that superbly throughout the game.”

When asked what has helped the club extend their excellent league form to 12 matches without defeat, the manager said: “Having that solid foundation that I think we’ve had in recent weeks, but also combining that with a threat going forward.

“I didn’t think we had that [forward threat] at Harrogate or at Bristol Rovers enough but certainly we did last Saturday at Newport.

“We talk about progressing and the next stage [of the squad’s development].

“Yes, you start off with the solid foundation and that gets you a couple of 0-0s at Harrogate and Bristol Rovers, now we want to take it on, create chances and score goals.”

“We’re looking forward to every game at the moment.

“No matter who [we pick], we’ve got players missing [but] that’s what the squad is for.

“We’ve got 18 or 19 because Jason Law is still there. We’ve got a really solid outfield [contingent] now.

“George Lapslie will hopefully be back in training this week [to strengthen the team further].”

The gaffer provided an update on the fitness of forwards Jamie Murphy and Rhys Oates who missed the previous match due to injury.

“I would think Murphy and Oates would be doubts,” he said.

“We’ll just see how they go but with the nature of the injuries – with it being a thigh (Oates) and a hamstring (Murphy) – if then something happens all of a sudden [then] you miss all of March and that’s a lot of games to miss.”

Watch the manager's news conference in full by clicking here.

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