Mansfield Town boss Graham Coughlan admits Carabao Cup rivals Preston North End have 'natural advantage' - but challenges his Stags to shake off the ring rust

Mansfield Town boss Graham Coughlan concedes Preston North End have the 'natural advantage' going into today's Carabao Cup clash.
Graham Coughlan. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)Graham Coughlan. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Graham Coughlan. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

While the new-look Stags prepare for their first competitive fixture in almost six months, the Lilywhites only concluded their Championship campaign on August 22.

"I think the Championship season only finished four weeks ago so they'll be at it," Coughlan said.

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"They haven't had a lot of time off. We've not played since March 7, so our team are looking at the best part of five-and-a-half months out.

"There's a natural advantage in Preston's favour.”

But despite those differing levels of ring rust - and the two-division gap between the two sides - Coughlan is challenging his side to test their hosts.

"I think we all know what we're expecting, 4-2-3-1. They're a footballing team," he said.

"They keep the ball well so I'm expecting a really technical game. it will be good, it will be lively, it will be vibrant.

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"They're a Championship team with Championship players, international players. I just hope we go out and give a good account of ourselves, it's there to be enjoyed.

"As I say to the players before they go out on the pitch every game, enjoy yourself, work hard and represent yourself to the best of your ability.

"It's going to be tough, we know that, but we're going to enjoy it and see how far we've come."

Coughlan has previously spoken out against the scheduling of the tie, claiming it has come too early for his side.

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However, with the game fast-approaching he is now focusing on preparing the Stags.

"It's affected the plans as we've had to re-arrange, restructure and re-organise but it's something we've adapted to," Coughlan continued.

"We've had a real good week to be honest and we're looking forward to the game.

"Obviously, you have to be thinking of selection, personnel. There's a lot of variables you have to give consideration to.

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"It's not ideal. It's something that's been chucked at us, we just have to accept it and get on with it."

Today's fixture also affords Coughlan a trip down Memory Lane as he returns to a familiar stadium.

"It's going to be strange, but it will bring me back to where I started," he said.

"I played reserve team football for Blackburn up at Deepdale, so that'll bring back some memories.

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"I'd love to be on the pitch with them. I've always said I'd love to put the boots on one more time because my career went so quick. It felt like it was overnight.

"I always say to the players, appreciate what you can. We have missed it these months."

Today’s contest kicks off at 3pm, and fans can watch via a live stream.