Manager Nigel Clough says that Mansfield’s mouth-watering clash with Forest Green tomorrow night will be a good opportunity for the Stags to ‘see where they are’ in comparison to the league leaders.
The boss believes that his side’s midweek trip to Gloucestershire will be a good ‘measure’ of how far the squad has progressed during their recent run of scintillating form which has seen Mansfield record their sixth successive victory in the Football League for the first time since 1991.
The boss says his squad are in positive spirits ahead of facing a Forest Green team who are unbeaten in Sky Bet League Two since 09 October 2021.
“We’re looking forward to going to the league leaders tomorrow,” Clough told iFollow Stags. “When you are winning, you’re looking forward to every game.
“It is a test. It’ll be a good measure to see where we are against the [team] top of the league and how close we are to them.
“We’ve got to defend well when we need to. [We need to] try and negate their [attacking] threat as much as we can and try to stop the service from going into the strikers.
“We’ve got to be tight. We’ve got to be solid as well as opposing an attacking threat.”
Mansfield’s defence will be bolstered by the news that commanding centre-back John-Joe O’Toole has renewed his Stags contract, keeping him at One Call Stadium until the summer of 2024.
“We’re very pleased that we’ve got it sorted eventually,” he said. “It’s brilliant news for the Stags’ fans.
“Mr and Mrs Radford have worked extremely hard on this, along with David Sharpe, and we’ve eventually got it over the line.
“[He signed the contract for] footballing reasons. He thinks that we’ve got a chance [of promotion] and the rest of the squad are feeling the same.
“Obviously, since he came into the squad we’ve been in a good run [of form] and he’s been a big part of that. He’s probably in the best shape that he’s been in for a few seasons.
“I think all of the players recognised straight away his abilities and also that they wanted him in our team.”
The manager may also be boosted by the return of midfielder Ryan Stirk, who is set to come back into the matchday squad having recently contracted Covid-19.
On Stirk, the boss said: “He’s a possibility [for returning tomorrow night]. We’re just waiting on [him completing] two negative tests, he’s already had one. Providing that he [returns] another negative [test], he’ll be in the squad.”
On Ollie Clarke’s withdrawal due to injury in the 2-0 victory over Walsall on Saturday, Nigel said: “It was just precautionary. Anything like that we try to get them off as soon as possible.
“It was the same with George Lapslie, but he’s back doing a little bit [of training work] and he shouldn’t be too long [until fully fit].”
To watch the gaffer's interview in full, click here.