Lincoln boss expecting his title-chasers to be fresh for derby day after weekend off

Danny Cowley'PICTURE BY ANNA DRAPER
Danny Cowley'PICTURE BY ANNA DRAPER

Lincoln City boss Danny Cowley is hoping a blank Saturday last weekend will see his squad fresh and ready for the challenge of Saturday’s home local derby with Mansfield Town.

The Imps’ day off, for international call-ups, did see them lose top spot.

But they have been able to rest up ready to face a Stags side that are on a club record run of 12 away league games without defeat and no away defeats in League Two all season so far.

“They’re on a very good run and they’ve acquired an outstanding squad,” said Cowley.

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“They (David Flitcroft and Ben Futcher) inherited a very good squad when they took over from Steve Evans and they’ve been able to add to that over the summer.

“In terms of numbers and strength in depth, they’ve got one of, if not the strongest, in the league. They’ve got two players, if not more, in every position.

“They’re a really good team going forward. They’ve very athletic and they move the ball very quickly and try to make the pitch big.”

On the benefits of a weekend off while Stags took on Port Vale at home and Charlton away, he said: “Time will tell.

“One school of thought is that they will be battle-hardened. The other school of thought is that we will be fresher.

“It’s certainly given us time to get some of the aches and pains out of the group. That’s a real positive.”

Cowley has put the spell without a game to good use and key players like Michael Bostwick and Neal Eardley have shaken off injuries.

Every member of the squad, barring long-term injury absentee Sam Habergham, was involved in an in-house squad game on Tuesday.

Cowley added: “It’s two competitive teams, it’s a local derby and we’re both fighting for the same prize, so there’ll be rivalry and competition,” said Cowley.

“What a great advert for League Two football. There’ll be 10,000 people there on Saturday – where else in the world would that happen for a fourth tier game? It’s brilliant for the league.

“It’s a fine balance because you want the players to be fiercely competitive, but you always want them to maintain their emotional control.

“The team that is able to control their emotions, to play with energy and intensity but also calmness and composure is normally the team that executes the best, tactically and technically.”