LOMAS ON STAGS: Can in-form Mansfield Town take advantage of Middlesbrough changes?

It could be the side selected by Chris Wilder will be more important than the one selected by Nigel Clough if Stags want to progress in Saturday’s big FA Cup third round clash at the One Call Stadium.

Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 9:52 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 9:52 am
Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder - has Boro on the up. But what sort of side will he choose?

As much as Mansfield Town would like to beat Middlesbrough’s first choice first team, there is not doubt Wilder would make life a little easier if he were to play largely a second string.

And with the upturn in fortunes at the Riverside since he went in there, pushing them into the play-off spots, there is no doubt they will have all eyes on the big prize of the Premier League promised land.

Wilder has said he wants to progress in the FA Cup too and expects whatever side he puts out to do the business.

But if he takes Stags lightly in any way he could have a rude awakening after the two superb wins away to League One clubs Sunderland and Doncaster Rovers and a stunning run of 10 wins in the last 11 games.

Even a Boro second string would doubtless provide as stern a test as Stags have faced all season, but Clough’s men do have huge momentum and, having got this far by winning two away ties, surely the noise and backing generated by the brilliant home crowds this season could help the players find an even higher gear?

As underdogs, Stags have nothing to lose and everything to gain and it should be a fascinating afternoon at the One Call Stadium.

Clough spoke this week about his current plans for the January transfer window which he said may involve just bringing in a couple of new faces to freshen the place up and give everyone a lift.

But he said he was in no rush to do that as injuries over the next two weeks could change his priorities, as could John-Joe O’Toole signing elsewhere.

Rollin Meyenese became the first one to leave the club on Tuesday when he signed full-time for Walsall after a successful loan spell.

And Clough said that, with him not regularly going with wing backs, he expected Corey O’Keeffe to move on permanently too.

Both Menayese and O’Keeffe showed in patches they do have quality and have had rave reports since going out on loan, but football can often be about timing and it wasn’t to be for them at Mansfield.

O’Keeffe is back at the One Call for the moment after his Rochdale loan ended but he is expected to sign permanently for them unless another club dives in to snap him up quickly.