Nigel Clough believes Tranmere Rovers will be keen to arrest poor form against Mansfield Town

Nigel Clough says form will count for nothing on Friday night when Mansfield Town go to Tranmere Rovers as Stags aim to break into the top three in League Two.

They face a side with whom they’re level on points having played three games fewer, but with Rovers having lost four of their last five games.

But Clough knows the Wirral-based outfit will be keen to put that right and likened the scenario to the one that faced his own side when the teams met earlier in the season.

He said: “They’re a very good side. Every team has these kinds of dips and it’s a complete reversal I think of when we played them at home, as they were going very well and we were struggling and that win set us off on a good run.

Nigel Clough says Tranmere will see the Stags game as a good opportunity to galvanise their fortunes.

“I remember saying at the time that I thought it was the perfect game for us in that nothing was really expected. Tranmere will be feeling the same and that it’s a great opportunity for them to get back on track.

“They mix it up. They changed formation on Saturday so we’re not quite sure what they’ll be doing this Friday night but we’ve obviously got one or two different formations we can play as well.

“They’ve got good forwards – Kane Hemmings is someone Stags fans will know well and he’s as dangerous as anyone there is in the league.”

Clough said he hopes to welcome the versatile Oli Hawkins back into the fold following suspension , but is undecided as to not only where he could play on the pitch following his good displays in defence, but also who may miss out should he take his place in the squad.

He said: “ It’s a difficult one because when he was in the team we looked solid and since he’s come out of the team we’ve looked solid as well, just conceding the late goal against Exeter.

“If he does come into the 18 then someone has to drop out so we’ll have a good think this week and try and come up with the best team to get the result.

“He also gives us an option at the other end, as is the case with Lewis Akins, and I think if you asked them both their preference would be to play up front, but they’ve both been filling in doing defensive duties for us, so there are plenty of options with the players we have available.”