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Archived News from August 2007

3rd August 2007 13:18

Evening Post, 03 August 2007

Billy Dearden admits Mansfield Town could have been preparing to face Premiership opposition tomorrow - but is much happier to be playing Huddersfield Town.

The Stags boss says the club could have lined-up a big name friendly this weekend.

But he believes Mansfield are much better off facing the League One Terriers as they will provide exactly the kind of challenge they need.

Stags travel to Brentford for their first game of the League Two season in eight days time and Dearden says Huddersfield will provide the perfect preparation.

"It would have been easy for us to get a big team here to play us on the final weekend before the season," said Dearden. "But that would not have been the best preparation for the start of the season next weekend.

"If we had played a top side we might not have got a touch of the ball. Even though we beat them, we didn't get a touch against Derby for ten minutes, before we settled ourselves down. We have chosen to play Huddersfield because they will provide similar opposition to Brentford.

"They will pose a similar challenge, which is the most important thing for us. It might have raised a bit of cash getting a Premiership club to Field Mill, but it would not have been the same kind of preparation."

Stags' preparations were dealt a blow when a planned friendly against Leicester City was called off, but Dearden still believes his side are ready for the new campaign.

"Part of me is concerned that we have not played enough matches, but I don't believe it is a massive issue.

"We have had two good games against Alfreton and Derby, two clean sheets and two performances that can give us confidence.

"And we have a match lined up against Matlock next week where, if we need it, we can give a few of the first team lads another run out.

"But we already have three or four injuries to contend with. Perhaps if we had been able to play another match we might have ended up with more.

"We don't have the biggest of squads and, when you weigh it up, I think we are well prepared for the season - or we will be by the time it comes around."

That squad should be boosted today by the signing of Lee Bell, who is expected to agree a one-year contract.

"I expect him to sign today and I don't expect any problems," said Dearden. "We gave him a chance to impress in pre-season and we have been very happy with what we have seen.

"I told him we would give him a contract if he did that and he has. He will be involved in the squad this weekend."

Dearden said Bell might not be the last of the signings - he is working on bringing a young Premiership or Championship player in on loan.

"We have one or two irons in the fire, there may be more signings to come," he said.

Evening Post, 03 August 2007

Alex John-Baptiste could play at right-back to give Mansfield more attacking impetus.

The 21-year-old has played in various positions during his Stags career, with centre-back his most natural role.

But against Derby last Saturday he shone at right-back, while captain Jake Buxton partnered Martin McIntosh at the heart of the defence.

Manager Billy Dearden said it is a position where he might use John-Baptiste more often that not.

Dearden said: "I have always fancied Bap as a right back. I think he can get a good understanding with Hammy (Matt Hamshaw) and will probably create a lot more down the right-hand side.

"He will play anywhere for me, he has been tremendous.

"I put him in midfield for the last 20 minutes (against Derby) just to get him going again. I might also use him there if I want a job doing on somebody."

John-Baptiste looked to be on his way out of Field Mill during the summer but a deal to Crewe fell through.

Dearden has also been impressed by 36-year-old McIntosh, who comes up against his former club Huddersfield in a friendly at Field Mill tomorrow.

He said: "He won his fair share of headers and knocked some good balls in."

First choice Stags to take on Terriers
CHAD website, 02 Aug 2007

Audio available on CHAD website here -->

By John Lomas
BILLY Dearden will field what he sees as his first choice line-up against League One Huddersfield Town at Field Mill on Saturday (3pm).
The Stags boss has tried different players in different positions in the three pre-season games so far which have seen Mansfield uremain unbeaten.

But he will go with what he sees as his strongest XI against the Terriers.

"I have said all along that this is the game that will be the most realistic for our level," he said.

"We played Derby County and there was the postponed game against Leicester but with Huddersfield only being one level above us I saw this one as being more competitive of the games and more realistic for when we go to Brentford to start the League the following week.

"Every manager will be the same this weekend and try to go with the side they intend to field the week after.

I will play what I think is our strongest team and give them all 90 minutes if I can and if everything works out, then okay.

"But if one or two don't play to their potential we do have other options for Brentford. We will have to see how it goes.

"I am sure Huddersfield will give us a very good game - they beat a Blackburn XI last night.

"I know Andy Ritchie very well and he will look at it with the same view as me."

Midfielder Stephen Dawson is hoping he will have recovered in time from a tight thigh muscle to be included.

Youngsters Danny Sleath and Rory Boulding are also on the treatment table.

But Simon Brown is another two or three weeks away from a return as the club continue to strengthen his knee muscles which may necessitate another trip to Lilleshall National Rehabilitaion Centre next week.

After that opening 1-1 draw at Belper, Mansfield have beaten Derby and Alfreton, scoring seven and conceding none.

"The two clean sheets were a bonus and it would be nice to continue this pre-season run on Saturday," added Dearden.


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