LOMAS ON STAGS: Start of Mansfield Town pre-season on us already as Euros excite
Amid the thrills and spills of Euro 2020, fixture lists, a cup draw and more new faces at the One Call Stadium this past week it would be easy to miss the fact that Mansfield Town's squad are back in pre-season training on Monday.
With such a long Covid-hit campaign seemingly only just finished, being topped up by the Euros means we hardly feel like there has been any break at all from the 'beautiful game'.
But Monday marks the first chance for Nigel Clough's new squad to impress and begin to stake a claim for the home opener against Bristol Rovers.
New faces must be integrated and assessed and players' fitness statistics noted – though that seems to be far less of an issue with clued-up modern day players than days of old when summer off season was all about being out on the lash non-stop for players keen to let off steam. Pre-season will certainly hurt on Monday, though not as much as it did many of the old school drinkers.
As a journalist, I was lucky enough to try a week of pre-season with Stags in Ireland under Steve Parkin – and that still involved Guinness in the evenings.
I was a million miles from professional fitness, but when I lapped a certain defender on a morning warm-up run round the pitch, it was no great surprise when they released him!
Two new faces at training on Monday will be Clough's two young next generation loan keepers, though Nathan Bishop will start his pre-season with parent club Manchester United.
He and George Shelvey are 21 and 20 respectively with limited first team experience.
But if you are good enough you're old enough and both are seen as great prospects with Stags set to benefit hugely from their ambitions and blossoming in a Mansfield shirt.
This column is being written just before the potential ecstasy/heartache of the England v Germany game with me barely having recovered from the edge-of-the-seat thrills provided on Monday night when two games produced 14 goals, extra-time in both, twists and turns and a massive shock as Switzerland pipped France on penalties.
Watching those and filling in my diary with the new season fixtures has simply whet the appetite with Stags’ first friendly at Retford United already looming a week on Tuesday.