Steve Evans says he wants to see Mansfield Town qualify for the latter stages of the Checkatrade Trophy - despite the competition being bottom of his list of priorities when it comes to silverware.
Stags host Everton’s under-23 side at the OneCall Stadium on Tuesday night knowing that they could progress into the second round if their result is better than that of Notts County when the Magpies play Lincoln next week.
And whilst the much-maligned competition is often seen as a hindrance rather than a help to many a manager’s campaign, Evans wasn’t quite so critical of it.
He said: “I’ve said before that on our list of priorities, the Checkatrade Trophy, which is a good competition in its own right, comes in fourth behind the league, the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup.
“But we want to win because I believe that will be enough to see us progress, which is what we want to do in whatever competition we play in irrespective of how important it is to us.”
Everton’s young side have lost both of their games so far in Group G but Evans expects a tough and useful test on Tuesday.
He said: “What you have with these sides are young men determined to show they’re good enough to earn new contracts and the chance to play in the Premier League.
“That’s particularly the case with Everton given they’re about to have a new manager and they’ll want to impress.
“They were unlucky not to beat Lincoln, by all accounts, but this will be another good game for us, albeit one where we’ll make changes to give players some valuable minutes.”
Those players are expected to include club captain Zander Diamond, who has had two months on the sidelines with a groin injury but is someone Evans wants to see back in the fold as soon as possible.
He said: “He’ll play against Everton with a view to him being involved at Shaw Lane on Saturday as well. He and others will want to stake a claim for Saturday’s game, after all, three of the four midfield players who featured in the last round of the Checkatrade Trophy at Notts County were then in the side to play Exeter last weekend and were outstanding, so it’s a good window for those that do take part.
“There are players we certainly have an eye on to be involved against Shaw Lane and beyond so it’s important they perform.
“They’re up against a team with Premier League players and the quality that brings, so it’s a great test for our lads.”