Mansfield Town will make wholesale changes for tomorrow’s Checkatrade Trophy group game at neighbours Notts County with boss Steve Evans stressing the competition is not a priority.
But Evans said he would be picking a side that can win the game which will give fringe players a great chance to stake a claim for Saturday’s visit of Exeter City.
Stags are currently in the midst of a strength-sapping six games in 18 days.
“It is our next game and there will be first team players involved,” said Evans. “We want to go there and represent our football club with some pride.
“But, as the same time, I want to be honest with supporters.
“We will make significant changes to the team tomorrow.
“I have no interest in what Kevin Nolan does. They’re doing very well and having a good season. But we’ll just look after ourselves.”
After four games without victory, Evans would love to get back to winning ways at Meadow Lane, but admitted: “It’s more important I have a freshness about our team against Exeter.
“Don’t get me wrong. We want to do well in that game and every player who plays in it has an opportunity to be in the team against Exeter.
“We want to win the game but we’d rather win the right games. “But we’ll go there and people will say how committed we are as we always are as a management team from the first ball to the last.
“By the same token we have four games in the space of 14 days and Exeter and Shaw Lane are the big games.
“The injuries we have been carrying make the Checkatrade Trophy games even less relevant. We need to look after what is important to us.
“The Checkatrade is important as it’s our next game and we have to go there and do our best, but I will be making changes and our supporters will determine whether they go or not.”
Evans said some managers at other clubs had sent out mixed messages to their fans about how strong their teams would be.
He said: “I have watched other managers in the Checkatrade blag it and say they’re going to be at full strength then there are nine changes!
“We made 10 changes against Lincoln. So why would I say against Lincoln that it’s not a priority tournament and then suddenly go to Notts County and make it a priority?”
Evans said the game was the perfect platform for his fringe players.
“Go and be real top performer against Notts County and you’ll probably start against Exeter,” he said.
“That’s how we work. We’re not a management team that has favourites. We pick the lads that deserve to play.
“We have three or four that are desperate to play, they want to get in the starting line-up on a regular basis and they are going to get a wonderful platform at Notts County tomorrow night.”
Evans is not a big fan of the competition’s rules, despite them having been relaxed a little on which players League clubs can field this season.
“Managers have different views when you talk about the fairness of the competition,” he said.
“But we could have an U23 team turn up that is a proper U23 team from the Premier League who could give you enormous problems. They could have too much quality for you.
“At the same time if the U23s are not selected and the manager wants to see some 17 and 18-year-olds blooded against a League club they could turn up with U18s.
“There’s nothing to stop them turning up with U18s one week and U21s the next – there’s nothing to stop them doing that whereas we have.
“Thankfully the rules have been relaxed a little bit so we can involve everyone who’s been around the first team.”