After just two pre-season games, Mansfield Town boss Adam Murray feels his new-look squad are already ahead of schedule.
Murray has brought in 13 new faces and, after Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Tamworth the games continue to come thick and fast with a game at NCEL neighbours Worksop tomorrow night (Wednesday, 7.45) before the Stags send separate sides to both League One Barnsley, for ex-Stag Bobby Hassell’s testimonial game, and to Conference North Solihull Moors on Saturday before MK Dons visit next Tuesday.
“It has been excellent so far,” said Murray. “We’ve had a couple of good work-outs and training has been intense but calculated.
“I think we are a further bit ahead of schedule than expected which is always good, so that’s a well done to the boys, who have gelled very quickly.
“It’s now about getting people used to playing with each other so they can go out and play with instinct and fluency. We are not as effective with the ball as I would want yet, but the lads are coming on great and there is a really high fitness level within them.
“The teams we’ve played are not as strong as the opposition we are going to come up against. We have dictated play and had the possession in both games. Now it’s about understanding how to make that effective to go and win games in League Two.”
There could still be movement on the playing front, but, despite looking at three trialists in a youthful side in Monday night’s 1-0 defeat at Retford, Murray said he was in no rush.
“I am more than happy with what I have brought into the building and I am not actively looking for any major areas to bring people in,” he said.
“I have been offered a couple of loans from clubs higher up in certain positions which we are looking at, but at the minute it’s about the players within the building gelling and getting used to playing with each other and, the biggest thing, learning how to make the style of play effective.
“We are two and half weeks into pre-season and the lads have spent virtually every minute of every day together. The unity in the group is superb.”
On the forthcoming friendlies, he added: “It will be the first team squad at Worksop tomorrow.
“We feel that the facilities there, the pitch and the way Worksop play under the manager I was there with on loan, it’s a good environment. So it’s a good place to go and take another step on our journey and set some seeds with the way we want to play.
“We will give certain people certain minutes to keep topping up their minutes bank.
“Saturday is a bit tricky of a tricky one as, obviously, we didn’t have Barnsley pencilled into our schedule.
“But, with it being Bobby Hassell, who I am very good mates with and who has done a lot for this football club, out of respect we wanted to make sure Bobby has the game he deserves.
“A testimonial these days is something you don’t find very often, so we needed to put a team there for Bob and I am now just deciding what individuals are going to get the best out of each game.
“They will be two totally different games as Barnsley are a big club in a higher league so it may be one of those games we spend periods without the ball whereas Solihull, with the players they’ve signed, will be strong next season, so it might be a bit more of a different battle.
“So the teams will be split and there will be an equal balance of seniors and kids going to both games on Saturday.”