James, almost an ever-present this season, said he was surprised at the Stags’ mid-table position ahead of the two sides meeting.
“They have had a lot of new players and maybe it is taking them a little more time to gel,” he pointed out.
“But I am sure they have got quality players and it will be a tough game.
“Mansfield will be up there (at the end of the season). They have got a good manager.”
Duo’s return like two new signings for StagsThe former Orient player, in his second season at Exeter, said he hoped to continues his run in the team and help fourth-placed City to end a run of two defeats and collect a fourth successive win at Mansfield.
“We were all very disappointed (after the two losses) but there were plenty of positives to take. That’s football - one minute you are up and the next you are down,” he added.
“You have to try to stay level headed - never get too high and never get too low.
“We are looking forward to the game. It has not been good not to have a game (in midweek) after a loss, it would (have been) nice to get straight back into things.
“We have done a lot of work this week and we are looking forward to Saturday.”
James’s manager, Paul Tisdale, praised the consistency of the midfielder since he got into the first team.
“He contributes a lot to the team, not just on the pitch but off it. He is our vice-captain.
“He was a very large part of our revival last year. He is like all of our players, we think very highly of them.
“We look at all of their strengths and he has many. He is a valuable member of four team and he has contributed a lot over the last 15 months.”
Last season Exeter turned the tables on the Stags with two late goals clinching a 2-1 win — including a controversial last-gasp Reuben Reid penalty.