Mansfield Town new boy Craig Westcarr remains ambitious for more glory

Craig Westcarr celebrates his goal.
Craig Westcarr celebrates his goal.
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As he joined the elite band to have worn the shirts of all three senior county sides, Nottingham-born Craig Westcarr this week stressed he had signed for Mansfield Town to win something.

The 30-year-old former England U21 player was the youngest ever player to turn out for Nottingham Forest at the age of 16 and has since had a career in which he has won two championships and scored in a Wembley final.

But he is hoping he still has more glory days ahead and said: “I have come to Mansfield to get into the play-offs or automatic promotion. I’ve not come here just to pick up my money.

“I’ve come to help the team out. The manager has put faith in me to come here and play. My aim is to reward him and get to where we want to get to as a squad and me personally.”

Westcarr had to sit out the first three League games before winning a place and said: “The gaffer picks the team. It’s just up to me to work hard. I’ve done that and the gaffer has seen that.

“He’s seen me working hard in training and he’s given me my chance which I am happy for and hopefully I am repaying him. He brought me in and I want to repay him and do what he wants me to do.

I am in the team now and the gaffer has told everyone, once you’re in the team, keep the shirt

“I am just happy to be in the squad and play every week. But I don’t want to see us just be happy with mid-table.”

Having seen his side achieve his first target of making the top seven, boss Adam Murray has now challenged them to force their way into the top three.

But Westcarr said if they can simply string some consistent results together, the climb up the table will happen anyway.

“The target for me is to be consistent,” he said. “Once we are consistent like Saturday and, to be fair like we have been apart from the Accrington game, I think those places just automatically come.

“We have a good enough squad. We just need to keep listening to the manager and Coops (Richard Cooper) and Nicky (Hunt) and keep doing the right things in training.

“We will get to where we want to get. It’s easy to say but we have just got to go out there and do it. At the moment we are, so we have to keep that up.

“It’s a really good squad – it’s a hard-working squad. Everyone wants to do well for each other which is good. There is a good bit of banter, but everyone wants to work hard, on the serious side.

“Everyone wants to win and after the Wimbledon game you’d have thought we’d lost as we all know how good we are and what level we are going to get to. We want that level to come quick, but it does take time and everyone has to be patient.

“It’s a good squad to be in. It’s a good atmosphere and everyone gets along.”

Westcarr said he wanted to use his vast experience to help bring on Mansfield’s up and coming youngsters.

“The senior lads, including myself, are always talking to the young lads to help them,” he said.

“I know Mal (Benning) from Walsall, there are quite a few I talk to and let them know what’s what and what they need to do – what will help me and what will help them. We are all in it together and I am really enjoying it. There is a good chemistry between the players.”

He said the best advice to the youngsters was: “Play it simple. Play your way into the game and then you can start showing everyone how good you are.”

Last year Westcarr spent a season at the southern footballing outpost of Portsmouth, where every away game seems like a huge trek.

“It was an experience at the end of the day which I have had now and it was interesting,” he said.

“It wasn’t really bothered about the travel, it was just about playing every week which as you can see I am happy enough doing here.

“If I was playing every week it doesn’t bother you. But when you are travelling and you are not playing then it does grind on you a lot to be fair, and that’s what it did.”

Westcarr’s family and friends are now finding it a whole lot easier to watch him play, but he said: “To be fair they came down when I was at Portsmouth anyway.

“It was a great experience down there. Sometimes you’ve got to do it. Obviously it didn’t work out for me but being back up here.

“Speaking to the manager here, he was brilliant. I’m here now and I hope I can repay him. My family do come down and it’s a lot easier here, I can’t lie, but I have come here to try to do something.”

Westcarr has now joined the small elite band of players who have turned out for all three Nottinghamshire clubs and said: “It is good and I am absolutely proud of that.

“But I have come to win things like I did at Notts and achieve things like I did at Forest, so hopefully I can do that here with Mansfield.”

He is certainly looking forward to striking up a fruitful strike partnership with Stags goal ace Matt Green, both setting each other up for a goal last weekend, and said: “Playing alongside Greeny is brilliant.

“It’s always good to play with him as he runs in behind and does all the stuff the top strikers do.

“Hopefully he can keep scoring and help us to get to where we want. Greeny has not even reached top gear yet but, at the end of the day, we are a new team and people need to realise it does take a while to gel.

“On Saturday everything came together, but people still need to be a bit patient with what the gaffer has brought in as it is a brand new team and a really good squad with some really good players.”

Westcarr thoroughly enjoyed last weekend’s 4-0 pasting of Crawley Town and said: “It was a very good win on Saturday.

“The team played really well and it was a good bounce back from the Wimbledon game which we felt we could have probably done a bit better in. Everything we worked on in the week, you saw it all on Saturday.

“I think everyone felt relaxed. There was a good focus from the boys before the game and throughout the week. We played really well and we hope to continue that form now.

“Saturday’s game was really tough so it was good to beat Crawley, who have had some really good results against some of the top teams and have gone to Cambridge and won. So it wasn’t an easy game. We are a lot happier now we’ve got past that and come out with three points.”

However, he is aware how tough Saturday’s trip to Luton Town will be.

“It’s a very difficult place to go,” he said. “They’ve had a bit of a slow start, but we know we need to be on our game and produce what we did on Saturday.

“It will definitely be a tough game – like all of them are – and a different challenge. It is definitely a great game to play in and hopefully we can get the right result.”

He added: “12 points from seven games and we haven’t been 100 per cent, I am really happy with. Saturday was probably when it all clicked together, but we know we can do more and be even better than what we’ve shown.

“Being seventh in the table at the moment is a good place to be. We could be like some of the other teams and be down there and having a totally different conversation. So we are happy at the minute. We know we’ve got a really good squad and we know there are several more gears to go up.

“Obviously I didn’t start the season properly, but I am in the team now and the gaffer has told everyone, once you’re in the team, keep the shirt.

“You’ve got to keep your standards and I like to think I’ve done that at the minute and I hope it continues.”