STAGS PLAY NOTTM FOREST TONIGHT
Stags boss Holdsworth relishing visit of neighbours Forest
Evening Post, 25 July 2010
PRE-SEASON so far has already seen Mansfield Town face three very different tests.
Tonight's home game with neighbours Nottingham Forest (7.30pm) is likely to pose yet another fresh set of questions.
In beating Championship sides Sheffield United 1-0 and Barnsley 3-0, before drawing 1-1 at fellow non-leaguers Frickley Athletic, the Stags have acquitted themselves well.
Fitness is steadily increasing, as is the familiarity between new players and those who have remained at Field Mill from last season.
But Mansfield will need to be at the top of their game to compete against a Forest side renowned for their ability to pass the ball fluently.
With the Reds also sending a team to Tranmere, only some of Billy Davies' first team stars will travel to north Nottinghamshire.
But it will still be a stern challenge for the Stags, who will be out to continue their promising start to pre-season.
"I'm very much looking forward to taking on Forest – it's an attractive game for us," said manager David Holdsworth.
"I hope the fans come out and get behind us because I'm sure there will be a healthy following from Forest making the short trip.
"We're very thankful to Billy Davies and Forest for sending a team here. I'm sure it will be a very good match.
"We were told that they would be bringing as strong a squad as possible, but whoever they bring, we know they are going to have some very good players.
"They will again be wanting to challenge for promotion this season and I'm sure they will be giving us the respect we deserve."
Holdsworth drew encouragement from Saturday's draw at Frickley, which saw Adam Smith open his Stags account.
The Stags were forced to field a 4-4-1-1 formation at Westfield Lane because of injuries to forwards Rob Duffy (chronic appendicitis), Lee Gregory (thigh) and Louis Briscoe (back).
The latter two players were expected to return to training yesterday and will hope to be involved against the Reds.
And the Stags are also unveiling two new signings, a striker and an attacking midfielder, who will further add to the manager's options.
Holdsworth said: "Saturday was a good day for us. It was the type of encounter we were expecting and what I was looking for.
"It was a battle, but we opened them up with some of the football we played, even if we didn't get the goals.
"Steven Istead played very well behind Niall O'Rafferty, who was our only centre forward.
"Against Forest it depends if the boys can get over their niggles. But the young man (O'Rafferty) will probably start again up top."
The Stags could also feature trialists John Leonard and Ashley Caines. But it is unclear if former Notts County midfielder Stefan Oakes, who played the second half at Frickley, will be involved.
"Stefan has a couple of opportunities to him at League clubs, so it's really just a case of seeing how things develop," said Holdsworth.
Adebola To Make His Forest Return
Dele Adebola is set to make an earlier than expected return from the surgery that he had on a previous hernia injury that had become infected. Adebola was expected to miss the opening month of pre-season, although he returned to training this week and will feature against Mansfield tonight.
The amount of time he will be involved for, and if he starts, is not yet known but he is not going to play the full 90 minutes.
Forest are sending sides to Mansfield and Tranmere this evening, both games taking place simultaneously, and the striker, as Billy Davies told the official website, will be involved in the squad that travels to the non-league side: 'we're hoping to get Dele part of the game at Mansfield.
'We're going to try and give as many of the other lads 90 minutes, which is why we have split the group between Tranmere and Mansfield.'
It has been confirmed though that Wes Morgan, Luke Chambers and Kelvin Wilson will not feature in either game - although various academy groups will be involved, both players and coaches, as Davies looks to further develop talent coming through at Forest: 'part of the exercise is to bring in the Academy first, second and third years, to integrate with the first team.
'And we will also be integrating Academy staff with the first team at both games to give them experience and the chance to gel.'
Dele Adebola's return will be a surprise for many, although this is a pleasant surprise, right?
Let us know what you think and also let us know which game, if any, you are going to.
Latest | July 2010