Signing new deal was ‘no-brainer’, now let’s get the season started says excited Mansfield Town wing back Stephen McLaughlin

Mansfield Town's player of the year Stephen McLaughlin said it was a ‘no-brainer’ for him to sign a new two-year deal and he now can't wait for the new campaign to kick off this Saturday.

Wednesday, 27th July 2022, 5:08 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th July 2022, 5:08 pm

“I was very happy to get it done. It took a couple of weeks, but I am very excited and looking forward to the next couple of years and seeing what it holds for me,” said the Irish defender.

“This club is unbelievable from the top to the bottom. It is a joy coming to work.

“You look at the training ground and facilities we have, it was a no-brainer really.”

Stephen McLaughlin in action at Oldham Athletic last Saturday.

He continued: “It's good to be back and ready to go again.

“The mood in the camp has been positive on the back of last season. That's gone now and everyone is just looking forward to Saturday now.

“From where we were at one point last season some said we didn't even have the right to be at Wembley. It was remarkable what we did.

“So we just have to take that into the new season and try to kick on and go one better.

“I have enjoyed pre-season. We only had a couple of weeks off but it was good to get back again. You want to get back on the pitch and work hard again.

“It was very important to keep the nucleus of the squad together from last season, especially the more experienced lads. And the additions the gaffer has made are very exciting.”

McLaughlin said Stags need to to stick their guns in a season when it could be tougher than ever to gain promotion.

“It feels like it could be another great season – but you have to show it on Saturday. We know that as a team,” he said.

“It's not going to come easy. This year is going to be a lot harder than last year with the teams that have come down.

“We are ready and we just need to stick to what we know and play well. Hopefully that will see us through.

“There are teams that come down and think they shouldn't have come down, hoping to go straight back up.

“But we have been building the last two years and hopefully if we put on the pitch what we are doing on the training ground, we can have a good season.

“Every club that comes to us, because of what we did last season, they are going to be switched on and up for the game.

“But that's what we are in the game for – to play the hardest game and come through. There is no better feeling than a team proper up for it against you and you come out the other side with the three points. There's no better feeling.”

As a full back that enjoys getting forward, McLaughlin is perfectly suited to Clough's plan of using wing backs this season.

“I really enjoy getting higher up the pitch as you get more chances and create more chances,” he said.

“As the gaffer says, there is nothing set in stone really. But in that formation I feel quite comfortable, and a lot of people can play in different positions with that formation. So we will have to wait and see what happens.”

Stags have a handful of new faces already well integrated to the set-up.

“It has been easy for them – they have all settled in and are all good lads. I can't wait to see them playing,” he smiled.

“I think they are enjoying it as well. Anyone that comes in here can settle in well.

“It has come round quick but we're looking forward to it. We have put in a lot of work on the training ground and can't wait to take it onto the pitch.

“I have my own personal targets which I will keep to myself. But I am just looking to do as well as I can and better than last year and see where it takes the club.

McLaughlin is delighted to see the sale of a record number of around 4,500 season tickets.

“It is incredible. It's such a rise,” he said.

“You don't see that about any other club. Usually it's the same ones all the time. But now we've got a hell of a lot of fans and Saturday can't come quickly enough.

“We know from last year that they will travel all over the country and every time we go out onto the pitch we try to send them home happy - and we hope we can do that on Saturday.

“We know what we need to do. They are an added bonus as when we are at home and maybe up against it, to have those fans there is perfect for us. It's an extra incentive to get over the line.”

McLaughlin was Stags' hero with a brace in a 2-2 draw at Salford in the last away game of the regular season just gone and said: “It's crazy. It was our last away game of the season last year and first game of the season this time so it's a weird one.

“I scored two then and if I could do that again I would be happy.

“We are desperate to get out there. We looked forward to the couple of weeks break, which was good as I got to go home and see my family.

“But after a couple of weeks you want to get the football out and go again and do better than last season. There is a real hunger about the team. We are looking forward to Saturday and the season ahead.”