Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough's warning on return of ex-Stags manager Keith Curle with struggling Hartlepool United

Boss Nigel Clough has warned players and fans to forget about lowly Hartlepool United's league position when they visit Mansfield Town on Friday night.
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United are currently bottom without a win but appointed ex-Stags boss Keith Curle as their new manager last week.

“We must completely and utterly disregard Hartlepool's league position,” said Clough.

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“They have changed their manager in the last week. Someone we know very well has gone in and first thing he's done is get a clean sheet at home. I think he will be sorting them out defensively before he does anything else.

Ex-Stags boss Keith Curle.Ex-Stags boss Keith Curle.
Ex-Stags boss Keith Curle.

“When a new manager goes in, everything changes.

“It was a great point for them on Saturday. When you're losing games you start with a 0-0. That gives you something to build on and I think Keith will be looking forward to coming here.

“His sides are tough to break down. A lot of teams will come here and know what to expect, so be defensively solid and a threat on the break.

“Carlisle in the last game got that balance right as much as any side that have come to our place – and I think Hartlepool have the capabilities to do the same.”

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Clough said no one should be complacent about winning on Friday.

“Everybody turns up and just expects a win is a given – it's three points. But it will be as hard as any game we've had recently because of that,” he said.

“There will be no air of complacency around our place. We will be reminding the players – we have done our hard work on the road, don't waste it on Friday.

“Sometimes it creeps in subconsciously with players. It's in the back of your mind - we're playing bottom of the league so we'll be all right tonight. Football doesn't work like that.”

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Stags return home after three away games in a week, boosted by victories in their last three away league games and being unbeaten in the league at home.

“It's good to be back at home and I love games under the lights – it's always a better atmosphere,” said Clough.

“We have zig-zagged all over the country and the players have done about 16-17 hours on the coach this week.

“It's lovely when they're rewarded to get the six points at Gillingham and Crewe to keep our momentum going – the Grimsby game was the least of our priorities.”

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Clough enjoyed his 50th win of his Stags managerial career with the two late goals that earned a thrilling 2-1 win at Crewe on Saturday.

“Saturday was as big a highlight as any of them to win late on,” he said.

“With 86 minutes on the clock and losing 1-0 you think if we could get a goal and a point here I think everyone would have taken it.

“So it was great to get the three points under those circumstances.

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“The squad will be on a high. When you win a game in that manner it tends to last a good few days. There are not many times you do that during a season.”

Stags have also now gained the most points in the league from a losing position.

“That's a good sign character-wise,” he said.

“When you do go behind you've got to react and try to get back in the game.

“We tell the players do not then concede another one quickly as that keeps you in the game. If you are only one goal behind that can change very quickly as we saw on Saturday.”

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Anthony Hartigan (shoulder) and Hiram Boateng (hamstring) will miss out on Friday with hopes one or both can take part in some of Tuesday's home Papa John's Trophy group clash with Derby County.

“Anthony is coming on okay and doesn't need to have an operation, which is good news,” said Clough.

“As soon as he feels comfortable we will strap him up and get him out on the training pitch and see how it feels.

“Hiram should start light training this week and we are looking for him to get some game time against Derby next Tuesday night.

“It would be ideal to get him 45 minutes in those sorts of games.

“We want to try to stay in this competition as it's ideal to give everybody a game. It keeps everyone ticking over.”