Nigel Clough aiming for a tight-knit slimmed-down squad by Monday night for last 21 games of Mansfield Town’s promotion chase

By the end of Monday's transfer deadline Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough wants to secure a tight-knit squad of players to see out the season as they chase promotion.

Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 11:49 am
Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough - slimming down his squad for final push.

Clough has already sent 12 of his 15 younger fringe players out on loan and would like to get the other three out too.

He has only signed two players in the window and only expects one more as cover.

“We don't want people sitting in the stand. That's why we are trying to get the 15 out – 12 have gone already,” he said.

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“With 21 games to go it enables us to get a nice tight squad of 17/18 outfield plus the three goalkeepers for the rest of the season.

“It's not a reflection of the players that have gone out on loan, it's a reflection on the improvement of the squad.

“This time last year they were in and around it and maybe playing in the second half of the season, but we now have better players in here and it's harder to break into the team when they're playing so well.”

Keaton Ward and Tyrese Sinclair are the latest pair to go out on loan with Ward heading to Telford United and Sinclair to League Two rivals Scunthorpe United.

“Keaton needs to go out and play so it's a good move for him,” said Clough.

“He played on Saturday in a 5-0 victory so it was a great start for him. He will enjoy some good, competitive football there.

“He had one or two different offers, but we know Paul Carden the manager, we had him at Burton for a time, and Carl Baker his assistant and it is a very good set-up at Telford.

“Although they are struggling in the league, it will be a great experience for him.

“Tyrese needed to go out and play. He has not quite hit the heights that he did at the end of last season.

“He's probably not had as many opportunities, but that means the forwards we have brought in have done so well. And now we've brought Lucas Akins in too it gives us the chance to get him out and play some games.

“James Gale will also go out on loan – a similar situation to Tyrese now we have strikers in. But he's just twisted his ankle a little bit and will be another week or so.”

Clough has already said loanee Richard Nartey will return to Burnley if surplus to requirements after the weekend and that it was unlikely fellow centre half loanee Will Forrester would extend his loan from Stoke.

Full back Corey O'Keeffe will also not be part of the squad and Clough expects him to join Rochdale, where he has had a successful loan, or elsewhere.

“I think that's getting closer with Corey – that's not too far away,” said Clough.

With youngster George Shelvey recalled by Nottingham Forest, veteran Marek Stech has stepped back up to be No.2 keeper with youngster Owen Mason out on loan at Guiseley but on recall if needed.

“Marek has been working well with Nathan Bishop and Seamus (McDonagh) the goalkeeping coach and he is our number two if we need him to step in there,” said Clough.

“Marek has been good around the place and no problem and he is as vocal and as pleased as anybody if we get three points on a Saturday.

“We place a lot of emphasis on the characters within the dressing room. “We believe if you get 75-80 per cent of the same sort of characters they will carry the others along with them and see you through the bad times as well as being there to enjoy the good times.”