MULLINS AND LLOYD INTERVIEWS
Football Post articles:
transcribed by carole
Boss's praise for new boy Mullins...
MANSFIELD will do well this season if their players all show the same commitment as full-back Johnny Mullins.
That is the verdict of his boss Peter Shirtliff, who has been impressed by the former Reading man since he arrived at field Mill.
Mullins has featured in both of the Stags first team friendlies so far – at home to Derby County and Nottingham Forest – as Jake Buxton has been out with a sore foot. In those matches he has proven himself to be a no-nonsense player who also likes to get forward down the flank and support his attack.
But it is his wholehearted approach that Shirtliff hopes will rub off on the rest of the team. “Mullins is good in the tackle has good distribution and is tough to beat in the air too,” said the Mansfield manager. “I like what I have seen from him and think he's done very well since I came here. If everyone has the same determined attitude throughout the side as him then it is going to be hard for sides to play against us.”
Shirtliff can take us all the way to the play-offs and beyond:
Matt Halfpenny talks to Callum Lloyd ahead of a crunch season at Field Mill for the young midfielder…
THE dawn of a new football season brings fresh hope for everyone – not just supporters, but the players too.
For the vast majority of last season, Callum Lloyd was cast out into the football wilderness, unable to earn a place in the first team at Field Mill.
Without a Stags reserve side, the 20-year-old was left frustrated and kicking his heels, waiting in the wings for sporadic match practice.
But his positive attitude never wavered, nor his dedication and application in training. And that, eventually, has paid off with a new one-year contract for the 2006-2007 season on the back of a run in the side at the tail end of last season.
Lloyd is well aware that the challenge is far from over though. He knows that this season, and in particular the next few weeks, could be a watershed moment in his professional career.
A successful pre-season campaign and good start in League Two could see him make the breakthrough he has been striving for ever since signing for the club as a teenager. But if things go wrong, the Nottingham player could quickly be cast aside by his boss Peter Shirtliff and deemed not to be good enough at the highest level.
What transpires remains to be seen, but Lloyd is determined to give it everything in a bid to ensure it is the first of the two possibilities that comes to pass.
“I was not surprised to get a new contract because the manager always said that he would offer me one,” he said. “In that respect, I was expecting one, even though I didn't play as much as I would have liked last season.”
“I thought I played quite well towards the end of the season and that perhaps cemented the deal I got. I wanted to play a lot more than I did last year and make a name for myself. I'm not going to be happy to sit on the bench.”
“I'm going to give it a right good go and I know that it is a little bit make or break for me. Some of my family and friends have said that to me as well so I know it's an important year if I want to make it as a professional.”
“It was my first full season on a professional contract and now I feel I am a little older and wiser. It was a big learning curve for me last season but I have learned a lot from then and hope to carry that through.”
After Wednesday night's 0-0 draw at home to Derby County, (actually, it was 1-1!) the Stags took on Nottingham Forest in a local derby today.
Lloyd knows his performances in those matches and the matches to come against Sheffield Wednesday and Alfreton are likely to shape the rest of his season.
He said: “For me, the pre-season games are very important because I have to prove myself worthy of a starting place. This is my best chance to show that I deserve to be in the team. I will play anywhere if it means I get into the team. There looks to be an opening on the left of midfield and there is an opportunity to play there.”
“I think there is talk about bringing in someone else for the left but I will try to put my name forward. I didn't feel comfortable on that side at first but, once I got used to it, I didn't find it too bad at all.”
“I feel I can play effectively on both wings and in the centre so at least it gives me the maximum chance of getting picked in one position or the other. As a player I will be aiming to get on the ball a lot more and also to get more goals.”
“When I first came into the side I got a few goals but then I haven't scored since then.”
Mansfield have made only three signings – Johnny Mullins, Matt Hamshaw and Carl Muggleton – so far.
But Lloyd sees that as a positive rather than a negative because of the team spirit and knowledge of each other's game that it brings.
“Last year there were new faces all around the club but now everyone knows each other already and I think we are better for it,” he said. “Notts County have done the same as we did last season and it takes a bit of time for everyone to gel.”
“I think everyone is getting on a lot better and hopefully it will make us a better side on the pitch. For me there is more togetherness in our squad than this time last season.”
Lloyd has worked under just two managers in his fledgling football career – Carlton Palmer and Peter Shirtliff.
But he has no doubt as to who has done the better job at Mansfield and is looking forward to working with that man in the next nine months.
Lloyd said: “I think we can challenge for promotion, either through the play-offs or by going up automatic if you look at how we played once Peter took charge.”
“He really got us going and we weren't all that far off the play-offs in the end. I know that the training changed for the better because he used a system that everyone understood and was comfortable with.”
“In fact, it was 100% better. There was just more purpose and direction to it. If Peter can carry on the way he has started in management then he can do very well in his career as manager.”
Latest | July 2006