Opportunity knocks for fringe players as Stags face home double

Mansfield Town's Manager Steve Evans - Pic Chris Holloway
Mansfield Town's Manager Steve Evans - Pic Chris Holloway

Mansfield Town boss Steve Evans said opportunities would be knocking for his squad this weekend with him unlikely to pick the same side for the home games against Hartlepool United on Saturday and Accrington on Tuesday.

Evans has one of the strongest squads in years at Mansfield to keep happy now and said: “Since we’ve walked in the door, every player that’s walked in behind us have been fantastic and they’ve given us absolutely everything they can.

“It was a hard-earned victory against a good Barnet side that has been in good form. It was a real team performance last weekend rather than being about individual performances.

“So it’s been a good three games for us. But it’s only got us up to eighth in the table and we need to have aspirations of being higher.

“The boys who were not in the starting XI have all trained with a real intensity.

“That’s really important as we have two games in four days next week and the chances of it being the same XI for both are probably not going to happen.

“So it is an opportunity for someone to stake a claim for a place in one of those two games.

“We like to think we’ve signed good players, and good players play with good players.

“We have a good dressing room and that is paramount, particularly when you get into February/March. This is the business end of the season.”

Stags boasted one of their strongest benches for years last weekend and Evans added: “Paddy Hoban and Ashley Hemmings never got on the bench on Saturday when fully fit and that’s testament to the chairman, not me.

“That’s testament to the chairman for his support and what he is trying to do do here.

“All we can tell them (the players not starting) is to try harder. They know we pick the side honestly.

“On Saturday I don’t think there’d be too many managers going down to Barnet and not play MacDonald and Potter given how they’ve played recently and the abilities they’ve got.

“But I am very genuine in the dressing room. I look at opposition and consider a number of factors and if I need to play one or two of them, the likes of McGuire or Green, whoever it takes on Saturday, then I will do it.

“No one has an automatic place. You shouldn’t have an automatic place at Mansfield Town, that’s for sure.

“You don’t always not change it – and that doesn’t mean we are.

“I said I was tempted when we went down to Barnet, but I stuck with the same thing.

“We’ll get to Thursday/Friday, have a look at the boys from Hartlepool and see our boys training really, really well, then they could be in the team on Saturday.”