Eager Mansfield Town champing at the bit for action after two postponements
Mansfield Town can't wait to get back into action on Saturday after two successive postponements over the last week.
Covid cases, which will rule out another two unnamed players for Saturday, and injury saw them have to postpone last Wednesday's trip to Harrogate and then virus-ravaged Rochdale called off last Saturday's clash.
“After the euphoria of the three points on Boxing Day it's been a bit of a comedown not to have a game,” said Stags boss Nigel Clough as they prepared to take on Middlesbrough in the FA Cup third round.
“We only had 10 or 12 training at the end of last week. Now the majority of the squad are back in, everyone is looking forward to Saturday.
“I think the fact that we haven't played since Boxing Day heightens it a bit.
“As a footballer, when you don't play football you should be champing at the bit for the next game.”
He added “Harry Charsley, George Lapslie and Stephen Quinn are all back in training, which is good.
“We have organised a friendly at Derby U23s where people will play varying amounts of time depending on how they feel.
“That's why we've arranged it - to have a gauge of what they can do and what stage they are at.
“I think the illness affects everyone differently. Some have really struggled with it but most have come straight back into training with no reaction. We have to monitor them.
“Some of them have had breathing problems. We start the training session and the physio, Tom, is very keen on monitoring the players and seeing if any are struggling after 15-20 minutes.
“We're stopping the session and asking the lads coming back are you feeling okay? Can you do a bit more? Some are really feeling the breathing problems, so we have to be very careful with it.”
Stags are taking no chances with training.
“We have changed the rules again back to where we were a few months ago and we are staying outside as much as possible,” he said.
“The players are not mixing indoors. We're having food outside and trying to do as much as we can outside.
“We've cut the meetings down. When you have 22-24 people in a room indoors, even with the windows open, it poses a risk.”
Clough will have to leave it late to decide on a side to face Boro as Covid continues to cause issues.
“Players are coming back at various stages this week and at different levels of fitness in terms of how they're feeling and how much they can do. We will just have to see how it goes for the rest of the week,” he said.
“We have had a couple more Covid cases already this week so they will be missing for Saturday. I don't think there are too many left who've not had it now.
“Rochdale called the game off on Saturday but I think we would have been struggling to get a team out as well.
“It's not been ideal. We played Salford on the 11th and then Hartlepool on Boxing Day. The next game is hopefully going to be on the 8th so it's one in about in four weeks.
“You have got to fit them in somewhere and January and February are already looking quite busy.
“So, while I don't necessarily agree with it, I think it's been sensible to abolish replays in the third and fourth round of the FA Cup so we won't be faced with that extra game.
“But there are going to be a few games to fit in – and that's without postponements with the weather or further ones due to Covid or injury.”