Mansfield Town to holds talks over future of in-form Danny Johnson after return from Walsall loan

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Danny Johnson's future with Mansfield Town should be clearer over the next week after the striker returned from a hugely successful half-season loan spell with League Two rivals Walsall, who would still like to buy him.

He could even be involved in Stags' tough trip to Northampton Town on Saturday, but boss Nigel Clough said, with players only allowed to play for two clubs per season, he did not want to hamper any possible bids from elsewhere or restrict Johnson's options so may wait another week.

Johnson, out of contact this summer, has netted 15 goals for the Saddlers at a rate of almost one every two games and Clough said: “We have Danny back in the building now with us and as far as we're concerned he is available for Saturday.

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“If something happens prior to that or after that we will look at it. But as far as we're concerned no deal has been done with any other club and he is scoring goals – hopefully he can do that for us.

Danny Johnson celebrates a goal on loan at Walsall.Danny Johnson celebrates a goal on loan at Walsall.
Danny Johnson celebrates a goal on loan at Walsall.

“We have had five or six enquiries for him and a couple of firm bids.

“One of them was accepted but Danny did not want to go to that particular club. You have to look at it from all angles.

“The player has to want to go and the two clubs have got to agree. If any one of those three parties can't make it work then it breaks down.

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“Walsall have made a bid but at this moment it is not up the valuation.

“But it's more about whether we want to keep Danny for the rest of the season. We are under no pressure to sell. The owners have been clear and brilliant about that.

“We're very happy to have Danny back. It's not a problem for us to get him back in and involved.”

He added: “The only slight problem we have in the next two weeks is the three club rule which, if he plays for us on Saturday or appears on the pitch, then he can only play for us or Walsall for the rest of this season.

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“That rules out anyone coming in and buying him in the last week or so. I don't like the rule – I think it is prohibitive on players and clubs doing business. It is a very poor rule.

“But if we reach a decision that he is going nowhere and Danny is happy that he is going to help us try to get promoted in the second half of the season then that becomes irrelevant anyway.

“We will have a chat this week with David (CEO Sharpe), the owners and Danny himself and judge it.

“It might be we hold him back for a game on Saturday and it all becomes clearer the week after as I don't want to reduce the club's options or anyone's options for the sake of one game.

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“After Saturday he would still be available for the 19 games that are left, so that one game won't make a great deal of difference.”

Clough believes Johnson is happy to try his luck with Stags once more and admitted that, had he known Rhys Oates would be out for three months injured, would never have let him go.

“I would like to keep him as he is another striker,” said Clough.

“What you can't guarantee any player is 20 games to the end of the season. But to have another striker who is in form and scoring goals, you won't let that go easily.

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“If he comes to us and says I have really enjoyed it at Walsall and that's where I want to be then it's a different ball game. But he's not said that.

“We get on well with his agent and he has intimated that Danny is quite happy to stay here for the rest of the season. I think he just wants to get on the pitch and score goals and if we can use him for that then we will do it.

“We had four strikers, but we lost Oatesy for three months the week after we let Danny go. If that had happened the week before Danny would not have gone anywhere. So he was never that far away.

“He is one of our highest paid players so we didn't think it fair for the owners to be paying that sort of money if he wasn't going to be involved regularly or starting.

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“We always knew he would score goals. He has done that throughout his career, but sometimes the way we play we weren't quite as fitting as we'd hoped in that way.

“When we brought him in we envisaged him being in a two up front with Oli Hawkins, but within a few weeks of that Oli had to go back to centre half with injuries and other circumstances.

“So we never got the chance to really develop that partnership either. That worked against Danny as well.”

Clough continued: “He trained with us yesterday and it was just as if he'd never been away. Some of the link-up play wasn't ideal at times, then he gets half a yard in the box and puts one in the bottom corner.

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“Generally he doesn't get involved too much in build-up play but if one drops in the penalty area he is generally as likely to finish it as anyone else.

“We play a slightly different style to Walsall. At times we only play the one central striker with two wide. Walsall usually play a pair. Danny can only play as a central striker. He can't play in a 4-3-3 in one of the wide positions – he has to play down the middle of the pitch.

“He will play 45 minutes in a friendly at Barnsley just to reintegrate him. Most of the lads are playing 45 minutes and 90 for those who need it.”