Raynor relishing prospect of a cup run
mansfieldtown.net, 7 Aug 17
Mansfield Town assistant manager Paul Raynor has confirmed the Stags will field a 'very strong side' for the Carabao Cup clash with Rochdale on Tuesday night (7.45pm kick-off).
Both sides will be aiming to record their maiden 2017/18 victory in the cup contest after Stags drew with Crewe and Rochdale were defeated by Portsmouth in their respective season openers on Saturday.
And despite Raynor admitting that Sky Bet League Two remains top priority this season, he insists Stags will be fielding a strong side in an attempt to progress in this season's Carabao Cup.
"We've always put cup ties right up there - we don't play weakened teams, as such," said Raynor.
"We don't believe that any team we put out there is weak anyway. We'll put a team out there that will be very strong; there might be one or two changes and we might tweak it a little bit because people might deserve to play as well.
"It's the next game; we want to win just like any other game. Obviously, the league is the top priority throughout the season but when these cup games come around we certainly want to put a team out to try and progress.
"It's a great competition. Every game for us is important - we'd like to get that first win under our belt so why not let it be in the League Cup against Rochdale?"
Rochdale narrowly missed out on a place in the Sky Bet League One play-offs last season as they finished ninth, four points behind eventual promotion winners Millwall.
Keith Hill's side will hold aspirations of sealing a top six berth this campaign and Raynor admits he is relishing the prospect of going up against such strong opposition.
"I had the pleasure of watching them - I went over to watch Conrad Logan at the end of last season and had the good fortune of seeing a fantastic performance," continued Raynor.
"They made Bradford look very ordinary and I think if the results had conspired the right way, Rochdale would have been in the play-offs to get into the Championship, so that shows the test we've got."
Former Nottingham Forest midfielder Raynor says that winger Alex MacDonald is recovering well from minor knee surgery but will not be fit enough to face Dale, however defender Rhys Bennett has now fully recovered from the bruised foot which forced him to miss Stags' final pre-season friendly against Alfreton Town.
"There's a possibility Rhys [Bennett] might come in -against his old club. As I said, we'll sit down later and decide that. Rhys had got a bruised toe and he was nursing his way back through that and he did a little bit of training last week, so we erred on the side of caution with him but he should be 100% ready for tomorrow night.
"He [MacDonald] was out there on the training ground this morning doing his work with the boys.
"He's not too far away and I wouldn't want to put an exact date on it, but I certainly think he's getting very, very close which is really pleasing for us because he's an important member of the squad."
Supporters can view Paul Raynor's full news conference by logging in to iFollow Stags.
Keith Hill On Mansfield Town Carabao Cup Tie
rochdaleafc.co.uk, 7 Aug 17
Manager Keith Hill looks ahead to Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup first round tie v Mansfield Town at the One Call Stadium…
“We want to do well in every competition that we play in and you want to start the season well.
“You want to start the season by winning games, because everything else gets lost in the wash and hidden behind the result.
“I was reasonably pleased with the performance on Saturday against Portsmouth but we’ve got to try and take that performance and turn it into a winning one on Tuesday at Mansfield.
“I expect Mansfield to be in the League Two promotion shake-up. Steven Evans [Stags Manager] is very, very successful in gaining promotion with teams and he’s gone to Mansfield with the ambition of getting them promoted. You look at their recruitment and it has been very good, and they’ve started the season reasonably well.”
Reflecting on the performance of his players during Dale’s opening day defeat to Portsmouth, Hill says there are plenty of positives he can take into the midweek encounter against the Stags.
“We’ll never know how the game would have ended up if we’d had a full compliment of players, but I’m encouraged by the stats and the evaluation of the game up until Keith Keane got sent off.
“I didn’t have to be a touchline manager on Saturday, because I was very comfortable and the players were accepting responsibility. We’d done a lot of preparation on Portsmouth, we knew what we needed to do and we were doing it well and I felt nothing but confident.
“Before the game, the atmosphere was outstanding and incredible, but I thought we silenced the Portsmouth supporters, and then we shot ourselves in the foot. It’s not the first time we’ve done that and this is a part of the weakness of the squad that we’ve got to improve on. That’s very important because in eight previous games where we’ve had a sending-off, we’ve picked up two points.
“We were in a very strong position on Saturday [before the sending off] and that’s the one disappointment from the match, but there’s plenty of encouragement to take from it as we move forward into the our next games.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow.