Stags win race with Swindon as Preston becomes first summer signing

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The prospect of working with David Flitcroft and Ben Futcher again was enough to persuade defender Matt Preston to leave Swindon Town to become Mansfield Town’s first summer signing today.

Flitcroft and Futcher took the 23-year-old to Swindon last September, though his season was spoiled by injury.

However, new Robins boss Phil Brown - who took over from Flitcroft in March – saw enough in the youngster to offer him a three-year contract at Swindon.

But the former Walsall youngster today opted instead to rejoin Flitcroft and Futcher at the One Call Stadium and he said: “It feels good to sign.

“It’s been a tough decision to leave Swindon, but I feel like it’s the best decision for me moving forward as a player.

“I want to carry on developing so I get off to a good start.

“I have worked with the gaffer and Futch before. I enjoyed my time with them at Swindon and they’ve persuaded me (to come here).

“I feel like I am going to learn a lot from them, especially with Futch being an ex-centre back himself. They have a lot of experience.

“They know when to be serious and when to be fun and I think you have to get that balance right. Between them they do that. They like working hard and it’s a work regime I agree with.

“I think Futch is a bit of a mentor to me. He’s played a lot of games at a good level.

“He’s been there and done that and can teach me what I can and can’t do in certain situations.

“He did that last season and I feel he will carry on doing that. He wants to help me as much as he can.”

There were other factors too in making Preston’s mind up, including the Mansfield supporters.

“I know a few of the players here already like Mal Benning and Omari Sterling-James. It’s the little things like that that have persuaded me to join,” he said.

“I did a little bit of research about Mansfield and I know the fans here get behind the club.

“It’s things like that which draw a player to it, knowing if you’re playing for a club that the fans are behind you. It’s a massive thing as a player.”

Describing his attributes, Preston said: “I’d say I am a dominant centre back. I’d like to say I was quite quick, which as a centre back is a good thing to have.

“But I’d like to think I can play as well. I’m not just a header and a kicker. If the ball gets down I’d like to think I can play as well.”
Having tasted it last season, he knows what to expect in League Two.

“It’s a tough division,” he said. “There is not a lot of football played by a lot of clubs, but it’s rewarding at the same time as you’ve got to dig in in a lot of games and you’ve got to go to places where it’s not exactly pretty, but when you get there, the 1-0s and 2-0s are sometimes the best wins.

“It’s going to be a challenge like anywhere, but the gaffer and Futch are the right mentors for me to try to better myself and hopefully we can go somewhere this season.

“The number one thing for me at the minute is game time.

“I just want to keep playing games and the more games you play, the more you learn.

“There are always little things you need to sharpen up and you need game time to improve them.”

With many players facing uncertain summers, Preston was happy to sort out his future early.

He said: “It’s nice being in the office nice and early and knowing what is happening next season. Your mind is at ease. It’s a nice feeling.

“Promotion is the number one target. Coming here I know the gaffer and Futch are on the same wavelength and we want to get promoted.

“I feel this is a good team and the club are very capable of doing that.

“I have one more holiday before we start back and will keep myself ticking over, going to the gym and running, though you’ve got to know when to rest as well. The holiday will do that for me.”