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First team coach commends forward fire power

7 March 2023

Mansfield Town first team coach Andy Garner has commended the role the club’s forwards have played in recent weeks as Stags aim to build on a period of fine form at home to league leaders Leyton Orient this Saturday.

The division’s second highest scorers, Mansfield have recorded just one defeat in eight matches.

A former striker in his playing days, Andy has been encouraged by the form of Lucas Akins, Davis Keillor-Dunn and Danny Johnson’s recent goalscoring cameo as Stags prepare for battles against three promotion contenders in a week in Leyton Orient, Northampton Town and Stockport County.

Speaking to iFollow Stags this morning, the first team coach said: “Lucas [Akins] is battling away up there for us and doing well.

“Davis [Keillor-Dunn] is playing really well at the minute, when he gets a little bit fitter as well, I think he’ll be even better for us.

“We’re scoring goals which is always a nice thing.

“Danny [Johnson] comes on on Saturday and gets a goal so everything is going alright at the minute.”

When asked about the season on a whole, Andy said: “[The season so far has been] very very good, especially the last five games.

“Four out of five we’ve won. At the minute we’re going very nicely.

“We had a hiccup against Salford but overall, in terms of availability of players that we’ve got, we’re doing alright at the minute.

“I think the [January] signings have been absolutely massive.

“I think [Alfie] Kilgour has been massive and I think Davis [Keillor-Dunn] has been massive as well.

“They’re two very good players; a proper defender, we’re defending properly, and I think on Saturday you saw the quality of Davis as well.

“The togetherness [in the group] has brought us all together.”

The coach confirmed that forward Will Swan will be ruled out for the remainder of the season with an ankle injury. Andy provided the further clarity on Stags’ injury situation.

“We’re down to the bare bones. It’s difficult at the moment,” he said.

“Players are contributing. They’re working extremely hard but like we all say, you need a little bit of luck.

“[Callum Johnson is] Injured. Yeah, [his] groin [which is] another one [out].

“We just can’t get over the injuries at the minute. We’ve got two kids on the bench.

“Danny [Johnson] goes straight on [at the weekend in place of Callum Johnson].

“That’s [versatility] the great thing with Lucas [Akins]. Not many forwards can go straight into that wing-back position. That’s him all over.

“We’re unfortunate with Callum Johnson, we don’t know how long he’s going to be out.

“It’s another one injured for us. I would assume [he misses Saturday’s match].

“He’s [Christy Pym] in [training] today. We’ll assess him and see how he goes.

“They’ve [all] got to be right. We can’t be taking any chances.

“We daren’t have a five-a-side at the moment because people are getting injured in that.

“We’re doing more possession than anything else.

“We just have to be very very careful with the players coming in [to training].

“[Elliott Hewitt’s calf is] very sore. I had a word with him this morning and he said he’s still very sore.

“Coming away from the Wimbledon game we were thinking we’ll have Elliott back, we’ll hopefully have Macca [Stephen McLaughlin] back, we’ll have Oatesy [Rhys Oates] back but it’s not looking like that at all.

“Elliott is looking 50/50, if that, [for the weekend].

“Oatesy might be on the bench, it’s a possibility, but apart from that it’s not looking great.

“Today I think we’ve got about 12 [training] and that’s with a couple of kids in as well.

“Quinny [Stephen Quinn] will have a little rest because the efforts he’s putting in are unbelievable.

“I think it gets to a point where you leave it [training or not] down to him.

“Some of the play he’s playing is fantastic. He knows his own body and we don’t want to take any risks with him.”

Top of the table Orient have been League Two’s leaders for the majority of the campaign.

“They had a fantastic start winning virtually week-in-week-out,” Andy added.

“All of a sudden, the points tally up and they find themselves with quite a lot of points more than anybody else.

“Over the last couple of weeks, they haven’t won as many as they would’ve liked. They’ve drawn a few and lost a few.

“They’re a good side, they’ve got a good manager and they score goals.

“They’re very hard to beat. Teams like us are trying to catch them up and it becomes very difficult when they keep winning most weeks.

“It’ll be a very good battle, no doubt about that.”

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