Mansfield Town tonight (Wednesday) begin a testing run of three big home friendlies in seven days against Championship opposition with players told to go out and win a starting place for the new season.
Stags tonight face Blackburn Rovers (7.30) with Hull City the visitors on Saturday (3pm) before Nottingham Forest visit on Tuesday (7.45pm).
Mansfield have enhanced their beaten play-off semi-final squad over the summer and assistant boss Lee Glover warned that all shirts are up for grabs.
“The lads are champing at the bit,” he said. “Pre-season sometimes can drag on. But once you get into the games against sides like Blackburn and Forest, it moves quick.
“Players understand then that they are playing for their places in the team and that’s when they have to knuckle down and try to get in.
“We have stressed to them we don’t know who is going to be in that team.
“We’ve said it’s down to you now. You have got to force your way into that team. How do you do that? You perform in the next three or four games and make sure you’re in that team.
“There is no favouritism. If you do the business you will be in the team. That’s the way we’re pushing it to the lads.”
Although up against Championship opposition, Glover said the friendlies were not just about testing the defence and shape.
“We are playing opponents from a higher so there might be an expectation that they will have a lot of the ball,” he said.
“But we are trying to work on keeping the ball ourselves. So we want to see how we can keep the ball against them rather than the other way round.
“Let’s see how we can keep it against good quality opposition. Can we hurt them?
“Yes, they are good opposition. But let’s focus on what we’ve got in the building and get the best out of them.
“We want to see how the players do – how can they respond playing against good quality Championship players?”
Glover added: “They are great fixtures for us and good tests – and for the opposition as well as us.”
Rovers boss Tony Mowbray is expected to bring a strong squad with the likes of Charlie Mulgrew, Darragh Lenihan and Bradley Dack all set to appear.
New signings Stewart Downing and Bradley Johnson are both set to play a part, but fellow new boy Sam Gallagher won’t, having played in a behind-closed-doors game with Macclesfield earlier today.