STAGS manager Paul Cox is eager to see the back of the Liverpool FA Cup game as his Mansfield Town side prepare to take on in-form Kidderminster Harriers at the One Call Stadium on Saturday (3pm).
Harriers were at the foot of the table when Stags won 3-2 there in August, but have picked up well from that bad start to win eight and draw one of their last 10 games and race up into sixth place.
Cox’s side showed in Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to the Premier League giants that they are very capable of turning the Harriers over. His only concern is that some of his players may still be replaying the Liverpool game in their heads.
“It is all over now – it’s chip paper. And we now have a very important game on Saturday,” he said.
“So we now need to graft and be focused. The game is still the talk of the town and still over the press. But I want my players to come back down to earth. I can’t have dreaming or reminiscing about what was or what might have been.
“It will tell me a lot about the players this week and help me see what I need as I really want to take this club forward now.
“This week we have been inundated by letters and e-mails from around the world congratulating us on our performance, some from our own league too. I am proud of the lads. But they have to get it out of their systems and concentrate on what is going to be a tough January.”
Cox’s options have widened after his second string players blasted Hartlepool 5-0 in a midweek reserve outing.
He said: “Come Saturday I need hungry players. Anyone who thinks they can take their foot off the pedal after last weekend can have no one else to blame when they find themselves out in the cold.
“The most positive thing here this week has been the performance of the reserves. There were some excellent performances from some very hungry players which has given me a really big headache. I am not scared to make changes if I need to.”
Stags also have midweek games on eight of the next nine Tuesdays as a busy end second half to the season begins in earnest.
“I have never been scared of playing Saturday, Tuesday,” he said. “You get a good build-up of energy and, in a good week, you can put nine points on the board. It can be a real positive if you are winning games. This could still turn into one of the better seasons in the club’s history.
“We still have to play all the top teams, including leaders Wrexham twice, who we can still catch if we win our games in hand.
“The thing with this league is that it will probably be won by one of the lower point totals.
“I always knew that Kidderminster would turn it round. It just shows you what you can do if you can put a run of results together. They have a good young side and it will be a tough test on Saturday.”