Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough has called for his players not to be complacent against ‘different animal’ Colchester United as the Stags aim for a tenth successive league match without defeat.
The boss’ side take on the U’s at One Call Stadium tomorrow evening.
Stags are in sixth position in the Sky Bet League Two table while Colchester lie in 20th.
Speaking at a news conference earlier today, the manager said: “I think we’re playing a different animal to [the Colchester of] two or three weeks ago.
“They went down to Sutton and they were a few minutes away from getting a result down there.
“Since Wayne Brown has come back in in the last two away games they’ve had outstanding results. They won 3-0 at Salford and then 1-0 at Orient.
“So [they’ve] not conceded a goal [in that time]. When we played them earlier in the season we said that any team that has Judge, Sears, Skuse and Chambers [then] the other six or seven that you put around them are going to benefit from those four players.
“They’re as good as any four players in League Two.”
Mansfield’s home match in Sky Bet League Two is the club’s last before a schedule of three consecutive away games.
“I think they’ll [the games in February] go a long way [in defining the Stags’ season],” said the boss.
“There’s a danger that people just assume that we’re going to win tomorrow night because our home form is so good but that doesn’t happen in football.”
Mansfield had a recent blank weekend due to their scheduled opponents - Hartlepool United - involvement in the FA Cup. The gaffer welcomed the opportunity to rest some of his squad ahead of a busy month.
“The lads had the weekend off to relax,” he said.
“The majority of the lads have played so many games.
“Here we are in the first week in February, it’s not a fitness issue now it’s a rest issue as much as anything and trying to keep them [the squad] fresh.
“We play at home tomorrow and then we don’t have another home game for a month.”
Tomorrow evening’s game could see debuts for deadline day signings, Matty Longstaff and Jamie Murphy.
“Jamie Murphy came down last week [to train with the lads] it was important for them to come here [at RH Academy] and see where they’re going to work and also meet everybody.
“Matty Longstaff was at the game at Harrogate.
“They [the rest of the squad] reacted to them [joining the club] very well. They reacted before they even trained.
“They’ve got the three months with us [as part of the loan deals until the end of the season] and 18, 19 games.
“They’ll have an impact in those games, but they also realise they’re coming to a team that has been playing so well.
“It’s a settled side, so they have to earn their place in the team.”
Watch the manager's interview in full now by clicking here.