Mansfield Town defender Stephen McLaughlin says ‘it’s good to be back’ as Saturday’s 2022/23 season opener away at Salford edges closer.
The Stags had a shorter pre-season than usual due to the earlier start date of the new campaign and the club’s involvement in May’s Play-Off Final but the club’s 2021/22 Player of the Season says that the squad are ‘ready to go again’.
The Irishman, and his teammates, will look to kick-off the 2022/23 season in positive fashion at The Peninsula Stadium this weekend.
Speaking to the local media at a news conference yesterday at RH Academy, the 31-year-old said: “Yeah it [the season] has [come around quickly] but it’s good to be back [and I’m] ready to go again.
“[The mood in camp has been] Good, it’s been positive. Obviously, the back end of last season [was a disappointing finish] but it’s gone now.
“Everybody is looking forward to Saturday now.”
The former Nottingham Forest man signed a new two-year deal at the Stags earlier this month.
“Yeah [I’m] very happy. I’m very happy to get it done,” he said.
“It took a couple of weeks [to finalise] but, yeah, I’m very excited and looking forward to the next couple of years to see what it holds for me.
“[It was a] No brainer.
“This club is unbelievable.
“It’s a joy to come into work.
“You look at the training ground, the facilities we have – it [was] a no brainer really [to sign a new deal].”
McLaughlin is optimistic about the new campaign and recognises the challenges of such a competitive division.
“It does feel like that [next season will be a great success] but you have to show it on a Saturday, and we know that as a team,” said the defender.
“It’s not going to come easy. This year is going to be a lot harder than last year with the teams that have come down.
“We have to stick to what we know and play well and hopefully that will see us through.
“We’ve been building [something] for the last two years and hopefully if we put on the pitch what we’re doing on the training ground, then we’ll have a good season.”
Mansfield have used a 3-5-2 formation for much of pre-season, a system McLaughlin feels suits his skillset.
“I really enjoy it. You’re higher up the pitch and you get more chances [and] you can create more chances.
“But as the gaffer said, nothing is set in stone really.
“I feel quite comfortable, and a lot of people can play in different positions with that formation.
“It’s exciting, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens on Saturday.”
The club have made five new additions in the summer transfer window. McLaughlin has been impressed with the Stags’ recruitment of Scott Flinders, Christy Pym, Hiram Boateng, Will Swan and Riley Harbottle.
“[They’ve settled in] Easy. They’re all good lads,” he said.
“[I’ve] Not got a bad word to say about them.
“Pym has good kicking as you saw the other day, he’s very active.
“H [Hiram Boateng] as well, he’s a very good player on the ball.
“It’s very exciting and I can’t wait to see them again playing.”
Mansfield will be backed by over 4,447 season ticket holders at One Call Stadium this season, a club record in recent times.
“That’s incredible,” said McLaughlin.
“It’s such a raise and you don’t see that at any other club, really.
“We’ve got a hell of a lot of fans and season ticket holders.
“It’s great and Saturday can’t come quick enough now because we know from last year [that] they will travel.
“They travel all over the country and every time we go out on to the pitch, we try to send them home happy.
“Hopefully on Saturday we do that as well.”
The creative full-back scored twice in the Stags’ last visit to Salford in May.
“[It was the] Last away game of the [regular] season last year and the first away game of the season this year.
“It’s a weird one that, but I scored two and if I could do that again I’d be happy.”