New Stags duo could start, despite unbeaten run

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Despite Mansfield Town having picked up a maximum six points from their last two League Two games, manager Steve Evans said he might still pick one or both of his new signings for Saturday’s tough trip to Barnet.

Evans signed midfielder Alfie Potter from Northampton and winger Alex MacDonald from Oxford on deadline day this week and Evans said they could come into the reckoning for a start at The Hive.

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“You always pick who you think should play,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter to me whether they’ve been in the club a day, a week or a month.

“If you think they’ve got something to give they’ll be in the 18.

“Do they make the starting XI? That’s what we are going to work on today and tomorrow, then we’ll take a fresh approach as we always do.

“We have won the two games but it doesn’t mean we’ve been overly impressed with every individual’s performances in those two games.

“The most important thing is that the team wins.”

Barnet sit two places and one point above the Stags in eighth and Evans said: “I have seen a great turnaround there.

“They have obviously changed managers. Martin Allen went off to the Conference National and they they changed things and moved out one or two players.

“But they have spent some money and have a great chairman in Tony Kleanthous – he’s a man I have known for many years – and he is the real reason Barnet compete at the level they do, as he puts so much money in.

“They have some wonderful players, people like John Akinde, who is big and strong and gets a goal. Of course, John played for me at Crawley. He is a great lad and I’ve not seen him for a while so it will be good to catch up.”

Evans continued: “We know it’s going to be tough. They are incredibly hard-working. I have watched their full game from Carlisle last week and they were most impressive.

“They went down to 10 men and should have still beaten Carlisle. We know how tough it is to go to Carlisle.

“I think they are still a direct side. When you have someone like Akinde you are going to be that way.

“But I think there is now a tendency to play a little bit more across the middle than what they have done previously.

“And they maybe have a little bit more athleticism in their team than what they had previously.”

The manager concluded: “They are a dangerous side and on the verge of the play-offs themselves. So it’s a good game for both teams to be involved in.

“But teams are in good form, and it’s a nice place to go and play your football.

“I have never taken a team there other than to train in preparation for other games. I took Leeds United there a couple of times.

“It’s a difficult game on Saturday but one we are looking forward to. When you’re playing the way the boys are playing I’m sure you’d like to play every day.”

The Stags begin February six games unbeaten, having lost only once in January – a Checkatrade Trophy defeat by Wycombe.

“I now want another January,” smiled Evans. “I think the dressing room is finding it becomes infectious. You want to win another game.

“It’s no secret. Some of the new players we’ve recruited are all champions in their own right.

“I keep hearing Jose Mourinho describing himself as a champion. These guys were champions more recently than any of us. You try to surround yourself with successful people.

“You want players who work incredibly hard and who have a know-how how to win promotion. That’s massively important.”