Mansfield Town boss Steve Evans expects to know his starting XI for the season after this Saturday’s friendly at Alfreton Town (3pm) with players already told ‘the gloves are off’.
Evans has been delighted with his new-look squad and, after both halves of his squad chalked up 4-0 friendly wins at Matlock and Gainsborough last night, he admitted all are still in contention for a place at Crewe on 5th August, though he believes he has six or seven players already pencilled in.
“Everyone in the squad up until this week has given themselves a a chance to play. It’s whether they can establish that between now and when we leave Alfreton,” he said.
“When we leave Alfreton and I say to Paul Raynor (assistant boss) what do you think the team is going to be for Crewe, we’ve worked a long time together and I think we’ll be pretty much on the same page as to what it should be.
“I said to the players yesterday morning after the little training session that the gloves are off.
“They are off for all of them. It’s time now to earn your place.
“We’ve accepted people are trying to get fit, we’ve accepted people are perhaps trying things to impress, we’ve accepted that people are doing things that are maybe unusual.
“But they now know from training and the games how we like to play and the patterns of play we like to introduce and it’s now their opportunity to stake their claim.”
Evans insisted players would get picked on merit and not favouritism.
“I love all of them and I don’t really care who I pick – I have no favourites,” he said.
“Far too often here in the past at Mansfield Town and at other clubs I’ve managed it’s been the manager’s favourites playing. I have openly said I have no favourites – the only favourite I have is sitting at home and he’s a wee dog called Hugo.”
Evans added: “We will know by the time we get to Alfreton, though performances speak volumes.
“If someone comes onto the pitch at Alfreton for 15 minutes and scores a hat-trick you’d be almost deemed to be picking him at Crewe.
“There are always places up for grabs. By the time we’ve come through the midweek games, me and Paul Raynor will sit down and grab a coffee away from here and chat about the options and players.
“As we go towards Thursday’s and Friday’s training we’ll almost certainly know what we’re going to be playing at Crewe.”