Mansfield Town return to pre-season training on Monday with manager Paul Cox urging his players to prove the bookies wrong.
Stags are expected to be among the sides battling to avoid a return back to the Conference according to summer betting forecasts, and Cox admitted: “It is going to be a tough season, probably the toughest I have come up against. But I am relishing it and looking forward to it too.
“There are some massive clubs doing some massive spending and there will be some massive challenges.
“But I have a glint in my eye and a smile on my face.
“Looking at the Northampton fixture we start with, we will be going to a club that I think this season will have aspirations of getting promoted.
“A lot of the time this year we will be classed as the underdogs.
“Looking at the bookies’ odds, we are heavily tipped not to get promotion but to go through the trapdoor. That doesn’t matter to me. We have a job to do and it’s part and parcel of football. It’s up to me and the players at the football club to prove the bookies wrong.”
League sponsors Sky Bet have the Stags at 28/1 for the title, 13/2 for promotion and 8/1 for relegation.
Ladbrokes have Bury as title favourites at 7/1, followed by Luton at 8/1 and Portsmouth at 9/1. Stags are in the bottom 10 of the betting at 25/1.
Mansfield’s title odds are even longer at Paddy Power where they are in the bottom seven at 33/1.
William Hill quote Stags at 7/1 for promotion, which is among the bottom nine in their betting, and 40/1 for the title.
Stags players will undergo body fat, weight and fitness checks on Monday morning before a hard afternoon of running.
They will then do gruelling double sessions for 10 days before a first behind-closed-doors friendly.
“It will be tough, but the lads are expecting that,” said Cox. “I want my players fit and strong physically and mentally.
“But there will also be a massive onus on team spirit and team ethic and that’s what can drag us along at times next season which we know will be a very tough season.”