Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough says his squad will ‘embrace’ and ‘relish’ the ‘nice challenge’ of battling for a place in the top seven of Sky Bet League Two.
The boss’ side face a sequence of three consecutive away matches, having already played two on the road prior to tomorrow night’s encounter at Rochdale.
Stags sit in 10th position in the division, and have up to four games in hand over other promotion rivals, while the Dale lie in 19th place.
Speaking to the local media today, the gaffer said: “Going for the top seven and a play-off spot from where we’ve come from three months ago is a nice challenge.
“It’s a nice thing to embrace and relish.
“It’s certainly not one to be frightened of.
“We’ve got 12 games to go, that’s all that matters.
“Whatever has happened in the previous 34 games is irrelevant now, it counts for absolutely nothing.
“I think we’ve got a good squad.
“I wish we were playing more at home, but [in] the next three [matches] we’ve got to get something, we’ve got to raise it and we’ve got to get back in that top seven.
“We should have a spring in our step [with us being] in the position we’re in.
“We were second from bottom three months ago.
“People thought it was going to be another relegation battle and now all of a sudden, we’re battling for the top seven. It’s brilliant.”
Mansfield’s scheduled contest at home to Stevenage on Saturday was postponed due to the opposition having Covid-19 cases in their camp.
“[The feeling of the squad was] One of disappointment. We were desperate for the game to be played and [were] surprised that the game was called off,” said the manager.
“[We were] Annoyed to a certain degree but it’s all in the hands of the Football League.
“I’m sure they [the Football League] will scrupulously investigate the circumstances of the postponement and make sure everything is above board.
“It [the match postponement] means that we play five consecutive away games now. Eight out of nine [matches] now have been away from home.
“It’s [the postponement] certainly not given us any advantage, shall we say.”
The gaffer admits it was a frustration not to play at home on Saturday having lost the previous two matches on the road.
“We were desperate to play the game having lost the two [previous] away games [Tranmere and Port Vale].
“I think that added to the frustration of the players on Friday morning when we told them that the game was off.
“We won ten on the spin at home, we were going for the club record of eleven and smarting from the two defeats.
“When you’ve lost the last two [it’s especially important to pick up points again].
“We could’ve easily had a couple of draws on the road or even won one of the two.
“We should’ve won at Port Vale, having been 1-0 up.”
With 12 matches remaining, the boss says that the end of the season promises to be an ‘interesting’ one.
“[Form is] Completely irrelevant at this time in the season,” he said.
“You see results come out of nowhere at this time in the season, in the last sort of ten, 12 games.
“We don’t look at the form guide whatsoever.
“I think we’ve played less games than anybody in the country all of a sudden.
“We’ve got these 12 [fixtures] to play and the next three [are] on the road.
“We’ve got to get something from the next three games.
“It’s going to be an interesting dozen games [remaining].”
The manager provided an update on his squad’s injury situation ahead of tomorrow night’s clash at Crown Oil Arena.
“[It’s] More than likely [that the team will be the one that would’ve lined up against Stevenage].
“Lucas Akins is the major doubt in the squad at the moment.
“Everybody else is there or there abouts.
“Ollie Clarke has a groin problem at the moment, that’s why he came off against Port Vale.”
Watch the manager's news conference in full now by clicking here.