New Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft has stressed to his players not to get distracted by the huge importance of Saturday’s six-pointer local derby at Notts County (1pm).
Stags trail Notts, who sit in the third and final automatic promotion spot, by three points with a game in hand and only 10 games left.
Some fans believe it’s Mansfield’s most important game since gaining promotion from the Conference.
However, Flitcroft is keen to avoid the hype and keep his players focused.
“Yes, it’s important, but there are still 27 points to go afterwards,” he said.
“When you start dealing with stats and figures you can let that cloud and confuse your judgement.
“This is a game that is massively important for both teams. It’s about how you keep your focus and mental approach right.
“If you start looking too far ahead of that you can lose focus.
“That’s why you see in so many local derbies a lot of contention and a lot of discipline problems.
“We’ve said to the players all week it’s really important how we represent the town and the supporters.
“It is turbo-charged. It is emotional and you’ve got to take away that emotional factor and be in total control of everything you do.”
He continued: “There is always a build-up. You can almost become a fan for that day and that’s what you’ve got to be careful you don’t do. You must not get drawn into that background noise.
“It’s really important we focus on the right team selection, the right substitutes, the right squad to take.
“You can’t get side-swiped by the attention, people wanting tickets, and the extra energy surrounding it. You have to be focused on what you do.”
Flitcroft is keen his players avoid getting dragged into anything on the day that could see the referee’s cards produced.
“We must stick to our game plan and the focus of keeping a real discipline. We must make sure we don’t get involved in the occasion,” he said.
“Whatever team I put out or position you play, you must stick to your task as an individual and as part of a team.
“Staff, management and players must all stick to their task as in a hotbed arena like that.
“As we saw against Lincoln, you can be on that yellow card and it can soon transcend into chaos. Referees get edgy in these games.
“We must make sure we concentrate on what we are in control of and committing to that.”