James Clarke captained Mansfield in their Papa John’s Trophy match against Sheffield Wednesday, while George Cooper made his debut – the pair are both studying sport science at Nottingham Trent University’s Mansfield campus.
Dr Nathan Cobb, lecturer in performance analysis at NTU’s Mansfield campus, said: "James has become a real asset to our programmes here at NTU with his success on both football and academic fronts, and it's great to see his patience and hard work starting to pay off.
“I’m really looking forward to supervising his dissertation project this year and helping him balance that challenge with his football.
“George has just joined us but is already showing the requisite attitude and commitment to excel in his studies and hopefully on the pitch too.”
Third-year student James followed up this performance with an appearance in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Oldham Athletic where he was named man of the match.
The 21-year-old said: ”Trying to find my way in professional football at first-team level is a real commitment and a lot of effort, with plenty of focus set on that.
“Completing my degree alongside this has been a welcome distraction from the football bubble, providing me with knowledge I can take onto the pitch such as overcoming mistakes, as well as everyday life in relation to time management and organisation, and would not have been possible without the support of the staff at NTU.”George, a first-year student, said: “It’s very important to me to continue my education and develop myself in as many areas as possible.
“It’s a great opportunity for me at NTU and the staff have been brilliant so far in helping me to balance my football and education.
“The learning I am doing and the understanding of a variety of topics within sport is only going to benefit me as a footballer and help be to develop and gain the edge on other players, so I am excited to learn more and improve myself both on and off the pitch.”