SHEFFIELD UNITED PREVIEWS + FOSTER/STONEHOUSE
Holdsworth relishing opening clash with his old club
Evening Post, 10 July 2010
DAVID Holdsworth has not got a bad word to say about Sheffield United.
Having spent 15 years at Watford as a player, it was always going to be a wrench for him to leave Vicarage Road.
But when he did make the move to venture north to join the Blades, the former defender was to have no cause for regret whatsoever.
In his three years at Bramall Lane, he became a real fans' favourite, taking over the captain's armband.
And it says much about his affinity for the club and city that he still lives there despite subsequent spells at Birmingham, Walsall, Gretna, MK Dons, Ilkeston and now Mansfield as first player and then manager.
Holdsworth was delighted when United agreed to make the short trip down the M1 from South Yorkshire to open up the Stags' pre-season campaign.
And he is hoping both clubs can put on an entertaining show at Field Mill today in what is the start of the club's centenary season under their current name.
"I think Sheffield United are a fantastic club with a tremendous history and support – and it's a real coup to get them to Field Mill to play us," said Holdsworth.
"I was at Watford a long time but I struck up a good relationship with everyone at the club. It's close to my heart.
"It is good of Kevin Blackwell to agree to it and I think he is keen on bringing the majority of their first team squad.
"They have made a few signings (Daniel Bogdanovic, Leon Britton and Johnny Ertl) and I'm sure they will bring a few fans who are keen to see them play.
"With it being our centenary as Mansfield Town we wanted a good game to start the season and we believe this is it."
With Mansfield's players still building their fitness for the first game of the new league season against Forest Green on August 14, Holdsworth says he will not be pushing his charges too hard.
Two familiar faces will be back at Field Mill, as striker Mickey Boulding and his brother Rory are on trial, training with the Stags and will play some part in the match.
Holdsworth added: "To let the players go at it hell for leather would be reckless. They will only be ten days into their full pre-season training at that point and it is a case of easing them in.
"There are still plenty of friendlies to come after this one and ideally I would like to give most of them 45 minutes each."
The game will give Mansfield fans the first chance to look at Holdsworth's acquisitions.
So far, they include Steve Foster, Chris Smith, Kevin Sandwith, Paul Stonehouse and Adam Smith.
"Hopefully the fans will look forward to seeing the players," said Holdsworth. "They will be looking forward to having their first run out at Field Mill as Mansfield Town players."
Stags fan Foster relishing return to the Mill
CHAD.co.uk, 08 July 2010, By John Lomas
AS a lifelong Stags fan, Steve Foster is delighted to have the chance to end his career trying to lead Mansfield Town back into the Football League.
The 35-year-old makes his second 'debut' for Stags in this Saturday's first pre-season friendly against Sheffield United at Field Mill (3pm) and can't wait to get back out onto the Field Mill turf.
"Playing for other clubs it hasn't been easy to see Stags games over the years but I have got down here whenever I could and it was always the first result I looked for after games," he said.
"I know the fans here are dying for success and as a team we will be trying as hard as we can to get us back in the Football League."
Foster came through the clubs as a YTS player and made five first team appearances after his YTS contract was extended by six months.
But then came a painful decision to move away from the club he had always loved so much.
"George Foster (the manager) left and went to Telford and gave me the opportunity to play regularly and learn my trade there.
"It was a hard decision but when I look back on it, the decision to move was the right one for my career in the long run and I am glad I did it.
"But the years are ticking by now and this would be a great place to finish for myself if that is the case."
With Amber and Blue in his bloodstream, the experienced central defender would look the perfect choice for captain this season but said: "That is a decision the gaffer will make but if the opportunity comes then I would be proud to lead the team."
After so much hard work on the training field in pre-season, Foster, like all the players, are looking forward to actually playing a game of football on Saturday.
"Pre-season is never easy though when you are running ahead of a couple of the young ones it does give you a lift," he smiled.
"Everyone has gelled very quickly and there is a buzz which will be even bigger when we play a game.
"Two or three players have left but that's always the case in football. There are a lot of good players here and morale is high. And the training facilities at Ashfield School have been good."
Foster knows competition will be fierce in a division loaded with ex-League sides but said: "I cannot see any reason why we can't finish in and around the play-offs. I would be very disappointed if we weren't. You need to be there or thereabouts by March time.
"There are a lot of good teams at this level and it is harder than ever to bounce back into the League. Look at Luton, who were probably favourites last year."
On Saturday's opener against a Blades side likely to be jostling for a Premiership place this season, he smiled: "It was nice of the gaffer to get us a nice easy game to start with!"
Manager David Holdsworth, up against one of his former clubs, added: "We are really looking forward to it.
"They are a tremendous club and I am really grateful to Kevin Blackwell and his board for granting us this game.
"The players will get about 30 minutes each and it's nice to go out and pit your wits against a Championship side.
"We also have half a dozen trialists here training with us who will be judged over the three games at Field Mill.
Stonehouse ready for debut
CHAD.co.uk, 08 July 2010, By John Lomas
Paul Stonehouse is looking forward to his first appearance in a Mansfield Town shirt against Sheffield United on Saturday.
It is a tough opening challenge for the former Forest Green Rovers skipper, but he said: "It doesn't matter who we play on Saturday, there are no points up for grabs.
"It is all about fitting together and putting in a performance and showing what we can do. It is nice to pit yourself against better players.
"I have enjoyed it here so far. I will always give everything I have got and I can play various positions which should help as it is a long season.
"I left Forest Green with the intention of progressing my career and I am looking to doing that here and helping get us into the Football League which is where I'd like to play. This is a springboard for me.
"The gaffer has told me where he sees the club going and it matches my ambitions.
"I like to play left back as that's where I have played most but central midfield or on the left are no problem as long as I am playing."
Stonehouse will have a quick chance to show his old club what they are missing as they are Stags' first BSBP opponents next month.
"Within 30 seconds of the fixtures coming out I had a call and I didn't believe it at first," he said.
"I spent five years with Forest Green and ended up captain so I have nothing to prove there. But there is always added spice when you face your old club."
Stonehouse one of the best in the league - Armstrong
Evening Post, 10 July 2010
MANSFIELD Town have acquired one of the Blue Square Bet Premier's best left-backs in Paul Stonehouse, according to former Stag Craig Armstrong.
Forest Green Rovers offered their former youth product a new deal at the end of the season, having made more than 150 appearances for the club.
But Mansfield stepped in to snap up the 22-year-old, who can also play as a left-sided midfielder, on a one-year deal.
Armstrong was loaned out to Rovers towards the end of last season, where he played in the middle of their defence alongside Stonehouse.
After becoming player-coach at the New Lawn under Dave Hockaday for 2010-2011, he is upset to see the talented player leaving for his one-time employers.
"It is a shame to see Stoney leaving Forest Green, but Mansfield have got themselves one of the best in that position in the division," said Armstrong. "He's not the tallest, but he's not bad in the air and he's certainly very good on the ball.
"Stoney is very fit and works very hard up and down the wing and at 22 there is more to come from him.
"When David Holdsworth rang me about him I told him good things and when Stoney asked me about Mansfield I told him training would be tough but Mansfield are a club wanting to win matches."
Armstrong revealed he had a hand in persuading Luke Jones, released by Mansfield at the end of the season, to join him in Gloucestershire.
Armstrong said: "I encouraged David to make enquiries about Jonah and everyone came back saying he came highly recommended."
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