`

Central defender tops Flitcroft’s shopping list as Stags boss starts summer rebuild

Stags boss David Flitcroft
Stags boss David Flitcroft

David Flitcroft has stated a central defender is top of his summer shopping list as the Mansfield Town manager looks to put his own stamp on the Stags.

News of the retained list this week saw six players released and six more available for transfer, while four loan players were sent back to their parent clubs.

A total off 11 players were listed as under contract and retained and the Stags are continuing negotiations with Alex MacDonald over exercising his contract extension.

Flitcroft said there had been a lot of thought gone into his decisions following the conclusion of the season which saw the Stags narrowly miss out on the play-offs.

He said: “We’ve got to make everything better. We’ve got to add to the quality. I think the quantity of the squad - 28-29 players - is too much.

“When I look at other successful teams they’ve looked at a different quality as apposed to quantity - that’s what I’ve been looking at.

“Before making these decisions I’ve been meeting a lot of players, that I feel make us better and I feel improve us.

“I understand the market I’m shopping in. I understand who I can go and get to improve the football plan, the football product and winning games.

“We haven’t kept enough clean sheets and we haven’t scored enough goals.

“When I look at the squad I inherited too many centre-midfield players with not enough product, not enough efficiency or product coming down the right hand side for the money invested.

“When you actually look at the players brought in to get us over the line and get us promoted, they haven’t turned up over the course of the season.

“I’ve identified that and now my response will be to do something about it - and make sure we get a real balance to the squad and to get the numbers right.

“It’s really important that when you’ve got a squad of nearly 30 players, on a Saturday, you’ve got 20 players who haven’t got a hope or a chance of playing.

“When I look back on the season in any promotion winning team, you’ve got lads who have played 40-plus games and you can almost name the team.

“You’ve got a strong periphery backing that up and supporting that. Our players? 20 games, 22 games; almost half a season.

“That’s where I’ve come to the conclusion. I’ve thought deeply about the football plan and what’s it’s going to look like on the pitch.

“How I want to play and the intensity I want to play at. The way I want to try and dominate teams and it’s all gone into the retention of players, the players we’ve listed and the players we’ve released.”

Among those released by the club this week were Joel Byrom, Alfie Potter and Rhys Bennett and Flitcroft said he tried to handle the process in the right way.

“It’s always difficult,” he said. “It’s never easy. It’s a part of the job I respect. It’s a part of the job I try to do right. It’s a part of the job I understand. I’ve been let go myself.

“I’ve had it done badly to me, I’ve had it done well. It’s never easy. It’s in my belief that I can find a different player to the fans favourites or to the ones being released.

“I always look at productivity. If it’s a centre-half, I look at how many clean sheets we need next season to be competing at the top of the league.”

Flitcroft remains confident those who have been released will find a new club while maintaining the belief of how he wants his Mansfield Town side to look like come August.

“Centre half (is a priority),” he said. “It’s quite clear Dave Mirfin is a long term injury set back. We’ve got money invested in that area of the pitch. That’s probably a top priority at the minute.”

He is also keen on strengthening at the other end of the pitch.

And added: “I’ve tried to show especially second half against Crewe, Port Vale, Yeovil and Crawley, with that attacking intent and the way we carve and want to dominate and create goalscoring opportunities at the top end of the pitch.

“It’s vital we have someone in the building who can score and will score the goals and the chances we’re going to create.

“That’s probably the hardest one and the most difficult one to get over the line. Everyone wants goalscorers, everyone needs them in the squad.

“But you can’t rely on that one striker to get the goals in, goals have got to come from everywhere; it’s a shared responsibility.

“To try and achieve 100 goals in a season, your centre halves have to be chipping in, midfield players, wide players have to chip in.

“That’s an effort and a responsibility the squad has got to have. Certainly it’s important we find a focal point of the team and making sure putting teams to the sword is at the forefront of our thinking.”

Flitcroft also confirmed the squad will report back for pre-season training on 25th June.