Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough says his side are aware of the threat ‘outside challengers’ Carlisle United possess as Stags aim to build on an impressive run of three successive home league victories tomorrow night.
Mansfield’s clash with the Blues will be the club’s first since all EFL matches were postponed over the weekend, following Her Majesty, The Queen Elizabeth II’s passing on Thursday afternoon.
With footballing now resuming, the gaffer hopes his squad can further extend their sequence of wins on home soil tomorrow evening.
Speaking in a news conference at RH Academy this afternoon, Nigel said: “[Carlisle have started the season] Very steady. I think they’ve only lost one game so far this season.
“They were tough opposition last year; I think we won one [and] lost one.
“[We had two] Very close games against them.
“We’re more than aware of their capabilities.
“I think they’re one of the outsiders that certainly could challenge this season.
“I think when Paul Simpson went in last season [as manager], they immediately picked up and got clear of the relegation [zone].
“I think they’ve made a couple of good signings [adding to] the good players they've already got there.
“I think if they stay injury free and get a little bit of luck that everybody needs, there's no reason why they can't be up there [in May].”
The Queen’s passing meant Stags’ scheduled home match with Bradford City was postponed on Saturday as a mark of respect and the manager believes the correct decision was taken.
“It’s been pretty solemn; I think for everybody,” he said, reflecting on the past few days.
“We were training at 11 o’clock Friday morning, so we only found out after that the game wouldn’t go ahead.
“We had a good training session and gave the lads the weekend off.
“I think everybody probably needed that.
“[I] Completely understand the decision to cancel all the games.
“The only slight counter to that is whether it would’ve given football an opportunity to come together on Saturday and pay their respects.
“I think one thing people tend to do and want to do when there's a feeling of loss is come together, people gather wherever they can.
“When I saw the scenes at the cricket and other sporting events, [I] just had a little thought that maybe we could’ve done something similar.
“For our supporters to get together at the football and pay their respects [would’ve been impactful].
“I completely understand either way.
“As long as we make sure we do pay our respects.”
Both sets of players will wear black armbands and, along with the rest of One Call Stadium, will observe a minute’s silence.
“I think all sporting events will be [doing] the same and rightly so, for the next few days or weeks,” said Nigel.
“It sounds a little bit callous, but we’ve got to put that to one side [for 90 minutes] to a certain degree and concentrate on trying to get three points.
“[We have to] Approach it the same as we have in all of the home games in the last 12 months now.
“[The] Remarkable home record that we’ve established, we want it to continue.”
The Stags have had several injury and illness problems in recent weeks. The manager provided an update on his squad’s fitness ahead of tomorrow's fixture.
“James Perch is a doubt for the game,” said the gaffer.
“[I’ve] Not ruled him out totally.
“Obviously Rhys Oates is out.
“Jason Law is on his way back, [it] might be a little bit too soon for him.
“Hiram Boateng is on his way back as well.
“[I’m] Not sure if it'll be too soon for him, [it] probably will be with being the nature of the injury.
“We’re hoping everybody else will be available.”