Mansfield Town goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik said the lure of a Wembley final should be enough for players to take the Leasing.com Trophy seriously as a competition.
He said Stags had carried out manager John Dempster’s game plan to perfection tonight as they progressed to the knockout stages with the 2-1 win at League One Burton Albion.
And, after making some crucial saves, he felt it was another big step on his return from a serious knee injury almost a year ago.
“There is Wembley at the end of this, so there is always that carrot,” he said.
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“It’s one of those competitions that some clubs maybe don’t take seriously, but I think the lads did really well tonight and did exactly what the manager asked us to do and we came away with a victory. We carried out his game plan.
“It was massive for me personally. When you come back from a long term injury, 10-11 months out, it’s always nice to get games.
“There is still a lot of work to do on my match fitness and it’s nice to get another 90 minutes as it’s been frustrating recently with games getting called off.”
He added: “I feel good in training and the main thing is I am showing the manager I am ready to play.
“In games like tonight, I wouldn’t be playing if I wasn’t fit. The only way to get concentration is by playing 90 minutes. Overall I feel really good.
“As a keeper you get judged on making saves, but the back five in front of me did an excellent job tonight and so did the players in front of them.”
With Stags’ current No.1 Conrad Logan now also goalkeeping coach at the club, Logan said the three keepers were all pushing each other hard.
“It’s a great goalkeeping environment. Conrad and I have a great relationship and it works perfectly,” he said.
“How well Conrad has been playing recently just shows the environment we’ve got. We all keep pushing each other every day.”