Mansfield Town continue player clear-out

A NEW broom swept clean at Field Mill this week as new Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox released all but two of the remaining out-of-contract players.

Cox, intending to build his own high-quality squad for a tilt at promotion back to the Football League next season, did give promising teenage striker Conor Higginson a new one-year deal and remains in discussions with full back Gary Silk, who also has offers elsewhere.

But Ashley Cain, Steve Istead, Steve Foster, Kevin Sandwith, Neil Collett, Ben Turner, Luke Medley, Dan Spence and FA Trophy semi-final first leg hero Danny Mitchley were all shown the door.

They followed Kyle Nix, Tyrone Thompson, Paul Stonehouse, Mark Preece and Niall O’Rafferty, who were all released earlier this month by previous boss Duncan Russell.

It leaves Cox with 10 contracted players with new boys Lindon Meikle and Lee Stevenson joining Alan Marriott, Adam Murray, Adam Smith, Tom Naylor, Louis Briscoe, Paul Connor, Rhys Day, and Conor Higginson.

With Cox’s intention to forge a squad of 22, it means Stags fans can expect a lot of exciting new signings in the weeks ahead.

“It is the hardest part of football management telling players they haven’t got a job,” said Cox.

“But if I am going to do the job properly I know fresh blood is needed.

“Nothing against those being released, but I need better quality.

“I want a smaller squad next season as I don’t believe in having too many players sat in the stands.

“So I don’t want to hinder people if they are not in my plans and have them knocking on my oor two weeks into the season asking why they are not in the team or squad.

“I have my eye on quite a few players, some experienced, some young, but all players that could affect the higher part of this league.

“There are a hell of a lot of players up for grabs in higher levels and in leagues below us.

“It’s up to me to choose the ones who have the right desire levels and are not just coming here to pick up a wage slip.”

He added: “I have looked closely at the models put together by Stevenage and Crawley to get out of this league.

“Crawley may have outspent everyone but their manager was still very prudent in his spending.

“He still brought in players like Kyle McFadzean from Alfreton, a sprinkling of good diamonds from the rough from lower levels, coupled with good Conference players and those with League experience.”

Among the outgoing players are veteran Mansfield-born Stags fan Foster, and promising keeper Collett.

Cox added: “Steve has been a good servant to the club. But I have to make horrible decisions and I have certain players I am looking at to bring into that position.

“I also have on or two keepers lined-up who I think will push Alan Marriott. I want severe competition in every position.”

Cox said he had already agreed terms with a couple of players, but added: “Deals are never done until they are signed and sealed.

“A lot of clubs are after these players and if someone else offers them 50p a week more they will go there.”