Striker-seeking Stags box Paul Cox hopes storms do not wash out Rainworth friendly

Mansfield Town v Sheffield United.
Mansfield Town v Sheffield United.

Mansfield Town will be hoping the thunderstorms subside to enable them to challenge for their first silverware of the season tonight when they travel to Evo-Stik NPL nighbours Rainworth MW to compete for the inaugural Green Energy Challenge Trophy in a pre-season friendly (7.30).

However, manager Paul Cox looks unlikely to attend as he continues his urgent striker search – and he dismissed rumours of a move by Nottingham Forest to steal his new winger, Sam Clucas (pictured).

There was already standing water on the One Call Stadium pitch this morning when Cox met the press and he said: “Looking at the forecasts and the weather throughout the night, any pitch throughout the country would be a doubt with this kind of rainfall.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed that Rainworth will drain well and we can play tonight.”

However, Cox’s priority tonight is to try to sort out one or two new strikers for the weekend.

“I plan to go and watch a striker tonight and I hope to have one, maybe two centre forwards in for the weekend,” he said.

“A bit of momentum is gathering and hopefully it will come to a conclusion in time for the weekend’s games.

“Without saying too much, I spoke again last night to the striker we had a bid accepted for and we had a good chat.

“I have another which is still in the early stages and no bid has been made yet. And we do have four or five other options.

“Everyone wants this sort of player and there aren’t many out there. But we have to make sure we get the right one. Just because I have a bit of a kitty to pay a transfer fee, I won’t pay a fee if I don’t need to as there are one or two I can get out there on frees.”

Although trialist Jordan Robertson has now gone, fellow striker Amari Morgan-Smith is still training with the Stags and Cox added: “I felt a bit sorry for him on Saturday as we chucked him on at a time in the game where he got no service. In hindsight we should have played off Matt Rhead.

“But Amari has good ability and is a good age. He was being courted by a lot of Championship clubs just 18 months to two years ago. I want to give him a good chance to see if he can earn a contract here.”

However, Cox confirmed that former Mansfield winger Nathan Arnold was no longer training with them.

Arnold had impressed in pre-season games so far. But Cox said: “We had a conversation on Sunday and he has one or two other options. He wanted a decision on Sunday and I wasn’t in a position to offer him anything on Sunday.

“He has done extremely well while he has been here and is a model pro. But my priority right now is to bring in one or centre forwards. It’s clear that is where we need strengthening. We wish Nathan all the best – he is a fabulous lad to work with.”

Former Luton Town, Crystal Palace and Port vale striker Calvin Andrew (26) has now also arrived on trial and one or two other trialists could get an outing at Rainworth tonight in a strong side which will include the likes of Ian Deakin, Ritchie Sutton, George Pilkington, Chris Clements and Godfrey Poku.

There were reports at the weekend of Stags’ Championship neighbours Nottingham Forest planning to table a bid for Mansfield winger Sam Clucas, who has only just joined them from Hereford.

However, Cox said: “It is all just speculation as far as I am concerned. I have not had any phone calls and the club hasn’t had any phone calls.

“In this business, a lot of representatives make a lot of calls to a lot of clubs.

“Sam is a good player who is going to play at a higher level than League Two. He is a level-headed lad and he was joking and laughing about the story, saying he had only been here a few weeks.

“I can’t stop speculation. But until someone phone me, the manager of this football club, and starts to talk, that’s all it will be – just speculation.”