Nigel Clough believes Mansfield Town squad is much stronger after January transfer business

Nigel Clough believes Mansfield Town’s business in the transfer window has resulted in him having a slightly smaller but much better quality squad at his disposal for the closing stages of the season.

By Mark Duffy
Saturday, 5th February 2022, 9:00 am
Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough.
Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough.

Stags saw several players come in and go out during January as Clough endeavoured to fine tune his squad to be one capable of maintaining the club’s recent excellent form and sustain a challenge for promotion.

And he now believes the quality is there to do just that.

He said: “It’s definitely a stronger squad than we had at the start of the transfer window, certainly in terms of quality. When it comes to quantity, we’ve had to trim it back a little bit numbers-wise, plus there are lads ready to go out on loan like James Gale and Ryan Burke, plus Jason Law who can now go out because we’ve got Matty Longstaff in.

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“That leaves us with the 18 outfield players that we wanted, and although George Lapslie is injured and will be out a little longer than anticipated we’re still left with a very good 17 and then the three goalkeepers.”

With Mansfield being in such a rich vein of form which saw them win a club record eight league games in a row before Tuesday’s 0-0 draw at Harrogate Town, Clough thinks that has made it easier to attract better quality players and therefore given him the luxury of being able to tinker with his starting eleven without weakening the side overall.

He said: “When you’re down towards the bottom and people have a look at the league, they inevitably think you’re fighting at the wrong end of the table, but I think when you’ve won 25 points out of 27 it’s an incredible return so people look at that, deduce we must be playing well and think it’s a good move.

“I think it was highlighted on Tuesday [at Harrogate] that our running stats were down, mainly in midfield, so had the new lads been available they definitely would have started but as it was we didn’t have a lot of options other than to go with the same eleven.

“When Lucas Akins and Kieran Wallace came on for half-an-hour it lifted us again with the fresh legs, but looking ahead, if we can change three or four when we’re playing Saturday/Tuesday but without affecting the balance and effectiveness of the team we’ll certainly look at that.

“It’s because we put so much effort in and I think the fans saw that against Leyton Orient on Saturday where we had to work unbelievably hard to get the victory, so to then have to go again three days later is a big ask.

“So if we can just change three or four players, which we now have the option to do, we’ll be doing that.

“It was very difficult when we were missing nine or ten players and most weeks we struggled to win games, whereas now we really only have George Lapslie and Kellan Gordon on the sidelines and that’s it, and we want it to stay like that.

“It’s a little bit of a gamble in terms of numbers but we can always call lads back who are out at non-league clubs on loan if we’re desperate, but with 19 games to go, most of the lads are looking fit and strong at the moment and we’ll take our chance that it’ll stay that way for the next three months.”