Higher standards under new boss paying off as Digby prepares for the biggest game of his career

Mansfield Town utility man Paul Digby said standards had shot up under new boss David Flitcroft and, now that was bringing results on the pitch, no one wants the season to end on Saturday.
Paul Digby of Mansfield Town - Pic By James WilliamsonPaul Digby of Mansfield Town - Pic By James Williamson
Paul Digby of Mansfield Town - Pic By James Williamson

After recent stumbles, the Stags have to beat Crawley Town and hope rivals Lincoln City or Coventry City lose to make the play-offs, Digby describing Saturday as the most important game of his career.

But, after such a traumatic time at the club following manager Steve Evans’ shock walkout, Stags have finally begun to string some form together and Digby said the transformation under new boss Flitcroft had been stunning.

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“It’s been incredible,” he said. “Training levels have gone up and the boys are visibly fitter, strong and sharper in training.

Paul Digby - Pic By James WilliamsonPaul Digby - Pic By James Williamson
Paul Digby - Pic By James Williamson

“The intensity we’re training at is brilliant. We do a lot more work on set pieces and shape work and I feel the team is really well organised at the moment.

“The last eight weeks I just feel it’s been a massive lift in training and all the boys are buzzing.

“I feel 100 per cent that the work on the training ground is now starting to show.

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“Sometimes it can be difficult when a new manager comes in. Things take time.

“We can all see the great job the manager is doing on the training pitch and sometimes that just takes a bit of time to come out onto the pitch.

“I feel that’s finally happening now and you don’t want the season to end as the boys are starting to kick on and the season is just starting to come together.”

He added: “I see it day to day on the training pitch. The gaffer and Futch (assistant Ben Futcher) have got such an amazing eye for detail.

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“From a personal point of view they are picking out little things in my game which will make me better. It’s been brilliant for me over the last eight weeks.”

Digby is under no illusions about the importance of the Crawley game, saying: “It is definitely the most important game of my career.

“The feeling here is one of excitement. We don’t want the season to end – that’s our mindset going into the game.

“All of our focus is on Saturday and getting the three points and, hopefully, results go our way as well.

Football is a funny game and things can happen.

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“Conrad Logan has been talking to us about his time at Leicester when they snuck into the play-offs on the last day of the season and it would be amazing for us to get in the play-offs and keep that Wembley dream alive.

“We’ve had a few good results recently and, with momentum gained in football, you just keep building on it.

“If we get into the play-offs, it would be a good time to get into them on the back of the current good form.”

Former Barnsley and Ipswich man Digby is about to complete his first season with the Stags and said: “I have enjoyed being here. “I’ve enjoyed coming in every day and learning. It’s a great club to be at and one with great ambition.

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“We’re a bit disappointed we haven’t lived up to expectations we set for ourselves at the start of the season.

“But with the backing we’ve got here from a great owner and great chief exec, I am sure going forward we can make it happen in the future.”
Digby has struggled to win a regular place and said: “Sometimes, when you’re out the team, it is difficult.

“But my motivation and mindset have always been that you might get chucked in at any time, and I’ve been in football long enough now to know you’ve got to deliver when you are put in.

“I think I’ve done that when I’ve come into the team and helped the boys.

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“I would never want to let the boys down and I want to give my all for them every time I step on the pitch.”

In recent games Digby has been used as a makeshift right back, and said: “I am loving it. I have played right back at Championship level and England U20s as well, so it’s nothing new to me. I know the role. I am just glad I can go I there and help to keep the play-off dream alive.

“I feel I am better down the centre of the pitch, either at centre half or centre midfield. I still feel my best position is centre midfield.

“But if I have to play right back or centre half to help the team out I am more than happy.”

He knows he could be in for a real test on Saturday.

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“Saturday will be a tough game,” said Digby. “I am hearing from a few people that Crawley have got fast wingers.

“When we went down to their place they did really well – it was the first time we’d lost in a long time.

“We just have to focus on ourselves and go into it full of confidence, which I am sure we will.

“We won’t go out there all guns blazing but I’m sure the manager will have a plan like he always does – he is meticulous.”