Mansfield Town centre half Krystian Pearce believes Saturday’s visit of promotion rivals Luton Town would be the perfect time for Stags to show why they were pre-season favourites to go up with the bookies.
“We have a very good squad this season - we are favourites for a reason and we will try to prove it on Saturday,” said Pearce.
“They are probably one of the biggest clubs in the league and they will be up there come the end of the season, but hopefully we’ll be above them.
“The gaffer has recruited well over the summer, so hopefully we’ll be up there.
“All the boys are looking forward to Saturday and training has been good. Everyone has been looking lively.”
Pearce will find himself up against Luton Town’s potent front pair of James Collins and Danny Hylton and said: “They have a very good strike force so, if selected, I will be trying my best to nullify them.”
Pearce is one of five top class centre halves fighting for two shirts.
“I am happy personally as I am playing, I’m in the team, and I am just trying to keep my place,” he said.
“It’s very competitive, at the back especially. There’s a lot of good players. Benno (Rhys Bennett) was player of the season last season and he’s not been able to get in yet.
“But everyone knows they are going to play this season and be involved. It’s just about keeping your head right and making sure you’re ready when you’re called upon.
“Collectively I think the players are starting to gel well now and we will look like a solid team very soon.
“Everyone in the squad has to be on it every day as we have so much strength in depth.”
Pearce got a first glimpse of new signing, loan striker Kane Hemmings, in a practice match on Tuesday, but didn’t have to face him.
“He was on my team to be honest,” he smiled. “But hopefully he’ll come in and have a good debut and hopefully nick a goal.”
Pearce was unhappy to see Stags pipped 2-1 at the death at Accrington last weekend.
“It was a disappointment to concede late on,” he said.
“Set pieces are going to be massive this season so we need to learn to defend them better.
“We didn’t deal with them on Saturday so need to make sure we deal with them better against Luton.
“Accrington is always a hard place to go, but it’s gone now so we move on to Saturday.
“It is obviously going to be a tough fixture against Luton, but we are trying to put right last Saturday and get another three points on the board.”
Three days after Luton, Stags take on Lincoln City at home in the opening game of the Checkatrade Trophy group games. But Pearce was adamant the foot would stay on the gas.
“Winning is a habit so we want as many wins as possible,” he said. “Every game we look to win, so we’ll definitely try to win it.”