Mansfield Town veteran Neal Bishop feels in perfect shape

Mansfield Town's Neal Bishop: Picture by Steve Flynn/AHPIX.com, Football: Sky Bet League Two match Tranmere Rovers -V- Mansfield Town at Prenton Park, Birkenhead, Merseyside, England copyright picture Howard Roe 07973 739229
Mansfield Town's Neal Bishop: Picture by Steve Flynn/AHPIX.com, Football: Sky Bet League Two match Tranmere Rovers -V- Mansfield Town at Prenton Park, Birkenhead, Merseyside, England copyright picture Howard Roe 07973 739229

He may be 37, but Mansfield Town midfielder Neal Bishop feels as fit as a fiddle and shows no sign of slowing down.

He insists he has come to the Stags to win things and admitted he hates missing any game.

“I was delighted to come here and I feel fit and strong,” he smiled.

“The gaffer rested me against Accrington and the performance was unbelievable. But I was disappointed to then miss the Saturday game.

“I don’t care how old you are you want to play every minute of every game. But I understood completely where the manager was coming from.

“I put pressure on myself to play every game and to perform every game to help the team.

“I’ve not come here to chill out, at my age I have come here to try to achieve something. I am ambitious as ever.”

He added: “As long as I feel fit and strong I’ll keep going. If I thought I was letting anyone down I’d walk away from it.

“But I have played 40+ games for 10-15 years now. The training here is very scientific and I embrace that. I have not missed a day’s training since I’ve been here and long may that continue.

“I have always been fairly naturally fit and maybe that didn’t help me when I was younger because, as I could run all day, I was trying to do six different jobs.

“The older you get you think a bit more and it’s about your recovery and professionalism at home.”

Bishop is fast becoming a terrace favourite for his work rate and he said: “I hope the fans take to me. I get my head down and want to win every game.

“I am a very down to earth type of person.

“I am a football supporter – I am a Boro fan – and the thing you look for from your team on the pitch is that they give everything.

“They come off shattered and could not give any more. Then you haven’t got an argument, win lose or draw.

“One thing supporters ask for is that you leave everything out there and I have learned that over the years.”

Bishop scored a spectacular 25-yarder at West Brom in the midweek Carabao Cup tie but said it meant little now as they lost 2-1.

“It doesn’t really matter. That sounds pretty boring but we didn’t win the game,” he said.

“Goals mean more if they are winners or get you results. Unfortunately that one didn’t.

“I just hit it to be honest. The pitch is immaculate so you haven’t got to worry about it taking a bobble or anything.

“As a strike it’s probably up there but in importance it’s not.

“At the time I was delighted. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tap-in or from 25 yards – all goals are good and it got us back in the game.”

He continued: “It must have been a great game to watch - it could have ended 5-5.

“I am probably a bit more disappointed with their winner as, if I am hard on myself, back there maybe I could have forced him wide. He’s come back inside. But they are good players.

“But it was nice to get on the scoresheet. Hopefully I can contribute a few more this season. I am up for set plays so on my shoulders I should be getting five plus this season.”

Bishop is one of the senior figures in a dressing room he believes is packed with young talent and knows he has a role to help them thrive.

“We have some really good young lads here along with the older pros who are there to help by demanding from them,” he said.

“Some of the best players I have played with – internationals – have been some of the biggest - I want to use a swear word - some of the most demanding people and get right in your back. But you look back and you know it helps.

“The lads here have ability but it’s how often you produce it. The lads who go on to Championship level do it day in, day, out game in and game out. There are people here who have the ability to go on to that level.”