Farrend Rawson returns for depleted Mansfield Town

Farrend Rawson - back for the Stags after a one-game ban on Saturday.Farrend Rawson - back for the Stags after a one-game ban on Saturday.
Farrend Rawson - back for the Stags after a one-game ban on Saturday.
Nigel Clough will at least welcome defender Farrend Rawson back from suspension from his alarming list of 10 key unavailable players for Saturday's trip to Northampton Town.

He will then get suspended pair Stephen Quinn and Tyrese Sinclair back on Tuesday for the visit of Port Vale.

But in the meantime, as depleted Stags look for a first win in 12 games, Clough knows anything they can achieve in the meantime would be a bonus.

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“It's still a long list, made worse by losing the two players injured on Saturday,” he said.

“In the next few weeks anything we can get will be a bonus until we get the players back on the pitch fully fit.

“In 20 odd years I have never known it like this to lose so many at one time. By the second half on Saturday we had 10 missing.

“I don't think I've ever had double figures before, even though we've always gone with similar squad sizes of 18/19 and a group of young players to dip into that we are very grateful for at the moment.

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“It's not just the number, it's important players, crucial players, focused in a couple of positions – central defence and midfield.”

He continued: “I think only three of the outfield players that finished Saturday's game started against Bristol Rovers which tells its story.

“We played very well indeed in the first five games, then you lose large parts of that team, performances dip, results dip, confidence drains, and everything else that goes with it.

“It's been very difficult to maintain the standard of those first five games with the players out. It's been one thing after another.

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“I think we've had a season's worth of problems and injuries in a month. It's not an excuse – it's a fact.

“It's testing. It's hard enough trying to win games when you've got everybody available and playing well.

“But we keep fighting. What we've always tried to do over the years is the more things are thrown at you and the more adverse the circumstances, the harder we fight. You get more satisfaction when you get a result in those circumstances than you normally would.”

On his walking wounded, he said: “George Maris is still feeling a bit groggy and there are certain protocols we have to rightly follow with concussion. I would think he is a doubt for Saturday.

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“He got a nasty whack. Their player actually pushed him into it a little bit as well which we thought the referee would have spotted and given a free kick – but he didn't. I think it made the impact worse.

“Oli Hawkins is not too bad. He has been struggling with his back and we think this problem stems from that.

“But I think he would also be a doubt for Saturday. We will miss him in both positions. We want him back up front as soon as possible.

“Ryan Stirk is back at Birmingham having treatment and we'd expect him to be a few more weeks, Richard Nartey is with us but not close at the moment.

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“Kellan Gordon is not too far off, probably about 10 days to two weeks. “Hopefully Will Forrester will train and be ready in the next week or two to start. In the meantime he will be on the bench.

“He has been out since pre-season. He's done a few sessions at Stoke but, with him being with us for the next six months or so, we have got to take it steady with him and ease him into it.

“Will had a good light session with us on Friday but needs a really good week or two's training as he's been a long time out without football. We'd like him to get a game under his belt as soon as possible.

“Faz Rawson is back from suspension on Saturday which is good news and gives us a much needed centre half.

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“Then on Tuesday we will also have Stephen Quinn and Tyrese Sinclair back as well.”

He added: “The main positive in the last three or four games is that we've stopped shipping goals. When you've conceded as many as we have it makes it very difficult to win.

“But we have only conceded two in the last four league games – and one of those was a disputed penalty. So I think we are getting to be a bit tighter. “Now we need to start doing more at the other end of the pitch to get us a goal.

“We are very low on confidence in front of goal You saw the other day, we are snatching at chances and crosses are not being put in the right place. “Even set plays are poor and that's down to anxiety.”

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On opponents Northampton Clough said: “It will be another tough one and they are strong at home as well.

“They are one of the sides that will be looking to get back up this season.

“Northampton are a strong, physical side – not in the wrong way.

“I think they are adapting very well to life back in League Two.

“They are well drilled and well organised.

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“Like the other teams that have come down they have kept quite a few players so they have a nucleus of League One players, which gives them a certain amount of quality.

“They have had some very good results so far this season.”

With players now starting to return Clough said it was unlikely he would continue to search for reinforcements from the free agents market.

“That's probably out the window now with the players we've got coming back from suspension,” he said.

“You are never quite sure with the injured players as they can have setbacks. But we definitely have one back on Saturday and two more on Tuesday so that should ease things.”