With Mansfield Town having done plenty of business in the January transfer window, there remained question marks as to whether existing loan players would remain at the club and how close to a return to action some of Stags’ injured squad members are.
And Clough has clarified where things stand, firstly with on-loan defender Richard Nartey who has featured only three times since signing from Burnley last summer.
Clough said: “It’s a funny one with Richard. In the agreement we have with Burnley they have the option to recall him, but we don’t have the option to send him back, so we didn’t do anything and in the end Richard initiated it and said he wanted to have a word with Burnley given we had players getting back fit, to see if he could get somewhere else on loan.
“I had a chat with Sean Dyche and we’ve agreed that we keep his registration so he’s still with us, but he goes back to Burnley, plays with the U23s, trains with them and then if we need him we can call on him.
“So essentially he’s gone back but we’ve kept his registration, so it’s worked out well for everybody in that if we have a crisis injury-wise we can call him back, but it will benefit him more to be playing in their U23s and training full-time with a Premier League side than playing the odd game here given he’s coming back from injury.”
Another loanee, however, won’t be returning to One Call Stadium, with defender Will Forrester’s deal from Stoke City not being extended.
Clough said: “He’s definitely staying at Stoke. We enquired about him coming back but they were keen on keeping him so he’s remained with them, but it was another good loan.
"We knew he had a knock when he arrived and it took a week or two longer than we thought it might to recover but the games he played saw him acquit himself very well and he scored a very important goal in the cup at Doncaster, before he then got another injury which ended his spell, but he’s a good lad.”
In terms of Mansfield’s own players, James Perch has returned to action following a long spell out due to a fractured skull, which it was initially feared would rule him out for the season.
But he came on as a substitute at Harrogate Town on Tuesday night and Clough said any doubts as to whether Perch was ready to return were soon dispelled.
He said: “We didn’t need feedback on him – the way he headed a corner away as soon as he came on at Harrogate was as much as we needed! He headed it as though he hadn’t been away at all, so that was as much of a confirmation we needed that he’s OK.
“We’ll keep getting him on the pitch. We’ve got a couple of games coming up later this month in the Premier League Cup against Wigan and Leeds, so he’s down to play in those but if we need him in the meantime we’ll use him.”
Midfielder George Lapslie, however, will be out of action for upcoming matches due to a groin injury, with Clough reluctant to rush him back until he’s fully ready to perform without the risk of further injuries.
He said: “George had a scan on his thigh on Monday and it’s a little bit worse than we thought it was so we’re looking at maybe another three weeks for him now.
"He had a niggle before this a few weeks ago and now the groin, so we want to make sure we get him completely fit so that if he’s available for the last 14 or 15 games that he’s ready for those.”