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Archived News from February 2007

26th February 2007 21:27

Stags' booster as Hodge signs
CHAD website, 22 Feb 2007

STAGS boss Billy Dearden finally got his man when Blackburn Rovers' Scottish U19 midfielder Bryan Hodge signed on a month's loan this morning.
Dearden had been tailing the 19-year-old for several weeks and said: "It's taken a bit of patience but we've finally got the green light that he can come here.

"He is a central midfielder but can play anywhere along the midfield in a three.

"I was first recommended Bryan by Glynn Hodges and have seen him play for their reserves three or four times and always been impressed by him.

"He has completed his three years' YT and has now been offered a year's contract.

"So he is coming here to get some League experience and I am looking forward to working with him and seeing him help us get up the league.

"He has had a good grounding at Blackburn with Mark Hughes and Glynn Hodges and he will be a great asset to us.
"Bryan gets up and down the field well and can pass the ball and get other players involved.

"His pedigree is right but, at his age, he needs to be playing League football.

"But at a Premiership club it is difficult as a youngster to break through into the first team, especially at the big clubs, as you don't get the chance beacuse they've just spent £6m-£8m on a new player.

"Hopefully he will come here and get the experience Blackburn want him to which will help us and help the player which would be good all-round.

"I am pleased Blackburn have let us have Bryan as we are very short in midfield right now."

Traffic delays en route to Field Mill meant Hodge missed his first training session with the side this morning. But he was looking forward to the challenge ahead.

"My reserve manager told me there was interest in bringing me here to Mansfield and I was delighted," he said.

"This is my fourth year at Blackburn but I have not progressed into the first team yet, though on occasions I have been called up to train with them.

"Quite a few of my friends from the reserves have gone out on loan to League clubs and this is my chance.

"I know it is a big step from reserve football to first team football but I am just delighted to be here.

"I am looking forward to playing in front of lots of fans, though I am a bit nervous. I have only ever played in front of a couple of hundred.

"I see myself as a pasing midfielder who wants to work hard and pass the ball. Central midfield is my first position though I can play left side if needed."
He added: "I don't know a lot about Mansfield Town - I couldn't even find my way here this morning!
"If I am involved on Saturday all I know about Wycombe is watching them play Chelsea and from that it is obvious it will be a hard game."

With Giles Coke and Callum Lloyd out injured and Matt Hamshaw on compassionate leave after his bereavement, Stags are very short in midfield right now.

So Irish midfielder Stephen Dawson feels the addition of Hodge will provide some much-needed competition and back-up.

"We are short and we needed someone else in midfield," he said. "It will be good for me and Jon (D'Laryea). It should freshen us up a bit and we can rise to the challenge.

"Anything that helps the team has to be good. Personally I know I have been below standard the last couple of matches so having a new lad here will hopefully sharpen me up.

"The last home game we let ourselves down and the fans voiced their opinion - and rightly so. We need to put that right against Wycombe."
Evening Post, 22 February 2007

BILLY Dearden today swooped to strengthen his Mansfield Town squad with the signing of Blackburn Rovers midfielder Bryan Hodge.

The Scotland Under-19 inter national has agreed an initial one month loan deal at Field Mill.

?Bryan is someone we have been trying to get for the past two or three weeks and our patience has finally paid off,? said Stags boss Dearden.

?He has just finished his third year YTS at Blackburn and has been offered another contract but Mark Hughes is loaning him out to get first team experience.

?If he can improve us and improve himself while he is here then everyone wins.?

Meanwhile Dearden is optimistic Mansfield can beat last season's points total of 54 by the end of the campaign. The Stags have 38 points and need another 17 to achieve that target - the equivalent of six wins from the 13 matches left.

That target is not an easy one but manager Dearden believes Mansfield can rediscover the form that saw them pick up points soon after his arrival.

"I would like to think that 54 points is a good target to aim for," he said. "Personally, I don't look at things like that and though it's a clich??, I like to take each game as it comes.

"If we win on Saturday then it is just three more points closer to getting up towards the top half of the table.

"If I think we keep everyone fit and bring a couple of players in then we will be ok."

Dearden is anxious for the Stags not to lose the confidence injected when he returned to Field Mill.

But he has been pleased that the team have been competitive in every game under him, even if results have not always gone their way.

He said: "What I don't want to let slip is what we have done so far in the six of seven weeks I have been here.

"I think we have come together well as a unit. We have lost some games, but no-one has thrashed us, it has always been by the odd goal.

"The team who scored most against us was Accrington and that was something that really did disappoint me. We have done better against some of the better teams like Stockport and Walsall."
Stags worry over strike trio
CHAD website, 22 Feb 2007
DESPITE the good news that Bryan Hodge was joining Mansfield Town today, the Stags still have major worries ahead of Saturday's visit of high-flying Wycombe Wanderers.
Scottish U19 midfielder Hodge (19) joined Mansfield on a month's loan from Blackburn Rovers this morning.

But, with Giles Coke and Callum Lloyd already out injured and Matt Hamshaw on compassionate leave after his bereavement, manager Billy Dearden is also waiting on strike trio Barry Conlon, Martin Gritton and Michael Boulding.

Conlon has only played the last two games thanks to painkilling injections after a bunion on his toe became badly infected.

And both Gritton and Boulding are at home fighting the illness that also struck down assistant manager Paul Holland and phsyio Paul Madin.

Conlon is also not training right now as the club try to ease the swelling.

Dearden said: "You have got to give the lad credit for playing. His toe is badly infected and if it is still painful I might have to leave him out."

But Conlon was hopeful he would be fit and said: "I am resting it for a couple of days to get the swelling down but I should be all right to play on Saturday.

"I have had a bunion on that toe for a couple of years or more and after opening up it was rubbing against my boot and became infected.

"I am just wearing flip flops at the moment to get some air to it.

"After an injection it's not been too bad once I've got out there and got warmed up. Besides, it's my right foot and that's just my wooden leg - I only use it for standing on as I am left footed!"

On the illness problem, Dearden added: "There is obviously something going through the club at the moment and we hope no one else goes down with it.

"It was a gamble playing Grits and Micky at MK Dons as they were under the weather. I hope they might be back in to train tomorrow. But I have got to wait and see who is available before I can decide my team or formation for Saturday."
Evening Post, 24 February 2007

Danny Reet is fast becoming a pet project for Billy Dearden. The Mansfield manager is at pains to get his teenage striker to shape up - but admits he is fighting a losing battle at present.

Only the form of Barry Conlon and Martin Gritton has prevented the situation from reaching critical status - but Dearden's patience is clearly wearing thin.

The straight-talking Dearden has been critical of Reet's fitness since taking over from Peter Shirtliff in December - and he continued his bid to shock a reaction out of the player by again questioning his commitment to reach peak condition.

Despite placing the 19-year-old on a strict fitness regime, Dearden has still been left frustrated.

He said: "He's all right, but he can't lose weight.

"He loses it training, but seems to put it on again when he goes to and from Sheffield.

"If I was in his shoes, I'd think, 'everyone is having a go at me, I'll do something about it.'

"It's up to him. He trains hard and works hard here, but once he leaves I don't know what he's doing.

"He's only 19 and it's a case of whether it's going to register."

Reet was given his first chance under Dearden as a second half substitute during last week's 2-1 defeat to Grimsby.

In his first match since December he looked well short of match fitness and was an unused substitute against MK Dons on Tuesday.

Matt Hamshaw's personal tragedy and a number of injuries mean Reet could maintain his place on the bench against Wycombe tomorrow - but time is running out for him to convince his manager he has a future at the club.

"He's got a lot of potential, but you can't have potential if you can't run," said Dearden. "It's frustrating because he is a decent kid. I just can't read what's going through his mind.

"He's in a comfort zone because if he'd only got this year left he'd be struggling to get another contract at this rate."

For his part Reet insists the penny has dropped and he is willing to do whatever necessary to win his manager's favour.

He has welcomed Dearden's hard line approach and is adamant he won't be disheartened by the boss' criticism.

"He has been critical, but it's for my benefit," said Reet. "He's got a wealth of experience and if I listen to what he has to say, I can only improve.

"If he sees that I'm doing what he says, hopefully he will give me my chance.

"You have to have a thick skin as a footballer."

If Reet is to force his way back into contention, he will have to displace Conlon or Gritton, and he knows that will be a sizeable task, given the partnership the two front men have formed in only a short time at the club.

"There's a few forwards here and it's great for the team if they're all doing well," he said. "It's good to have competition for forward places.

"They've had a good start and I have to travel in with them, which is not always the best, but they are a good laugh and I get on well with them.

"They've got experience - have been there and done - and if I can do half of what they've done in my career I'll be more than happy.

"I just need to get back fit again and if I can things will fall back into place.

"I've been out since before Christmas and I'm just glad to be back involved.

"It's going to take a while to get back into the swing of things.

"It's hard work, but any training is hard work. I have to do extra work. Extra training, extra running, finishing whatever.

"I need to get my fitness up to the same level as everyone else so I have to do some extra after training.

"It's frustrating to be out, but it's up to you to prove to the manager you are fit and ready. On Saturday I got my rewards for working hard - it's step by step." james.robson@nottinghameveningpost.co.uk


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