LOMAS ON STAGS: Are Mansfield still a striker short?

Steve Evans.
Steve Evans.

With so much transfer activity and excitement at the One Call Stadium, it’s no surprise the summer has flown by so fast.

But tomorrow morning (Thursday) the players will be back in training to start to shake off the rust for a season that promises so much.

Fans were treated to summer signing number 13 this week in the shape of another lightning quick winger in Amari Sterling-James, who can also play as a central striker.

And diaries have already been filled in with last week’s new fixtures list that was a whole lot kinder to away fans than of late for midweek fixtures.

Click HERE to see John Lomas with the latest Stags news via Facebook Live

Fewer days holiday will now be used up heading to obscure corners of the country, though Barnet away on a Tuesday night followed by a game at Newport four days later will test stamina and resolve as will a Tuesday game at Cheltenham.

However, on closer examination, the Stags do face a really tough first 12 games that will require boss Steve Evans’ new recruits to gel quickly.

Crewe away is never an easy fixture to kick off with and, after a midweek Caraboa Cup clash with League One Rochdale, Stags host League new boys Forest Green, who will be on a high and something of a roll.

Bogey side Accrington away is next with Stags unable to win any of their last 11 encounters, followed by Luton at home and Carlisle away – both beaten play-off semi-finalists.

Grimsby at home is like a derby with a big away following, Wycombe at home is always tough and then comes the Lincoln derby away.

Stags have not beaten Cambridge at home in four visits, Cheltenham away on a Tuesday is a trek, then it’s local rivals Notts County at home and Colchester away to complete a testing first quarter of the campaign.

But bookies rarely lose out and they are convinced this new Stags squad is more than good enough to win League Two.

Boss Steve Evans said today that if Stags are up there after those tough first 10 games he believes they will be up there all season.

With nine previous promotions under his belt I would certainly not argue with that.

Most of the fans’ concerns seem to centre on whether Stags will have enough up front if Evans fails to lure in an experienced goalscorer.

However, Evans is convinced he already has a couple of possible 20-goal a season men signed up in Lee Angoll and Danny Rose and he also rates Jimmy Spencer very highly.

His biggest problem might be if, like with the centre halves last season, an early run of injuries wipes out three from that department.

Yes, he does have other players in a versatile squad who could fill holes up there.

But I would feel much happier with at least one more centre forward in the building, whatever his past goals ratio.

The bonus as far as goals are concerned this year is that with the quality of midfielders that have come in since January, far more chances are likely to be created while the new, big, experienced centre halves will be much more of a threat at set pieces.

Fans heading out to Malta next week will have a great time but won’t see anything like the finished articles as far as the new boys are concerned.

But by the time Stags take on the three Championship sides in eight days at the One Call Stadium I believe we will be better able to judge what we’ve got in the building and what more Evans may need before the window slams shut until January.