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DUNNE ON PP & PREVIEWS NORTHAMPTON / AIDAN STONE
9th March 2020 17:42


Stags almost at full-strength - assistant
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 3rd March 2020

Assistant boss Joe Dunne has revealed that the Stags may almost have a full roster of players to select from for this weekend’s upcoming fixture away at Northampton Town.

Two recent absentees - midfielder Alex MacDonald and defender Matt Preston - are expected to return to training this week following hamstring injuries, leaving wing-back Kellan Gordon as the only current injured first team player.

Dunne says that the increased numbers in Stags’ training sessions due to returning players increases competition and intensity within the Mansfield ranks.

“We expect him [Alex MacDonald] to be back on the grass this week, so that’s a real positive for us,” he told iFollow Stags. “[Matt Preston] again, is back on the grass this week, so another positive.

“The key thing with both of those players being added to it [squad] is that it keeps up competition.

“With Kellan [Gordon], unfortunately, the process is a little bit slower with him. It’s important that we give him the best time possible to be able to showcase his talent.

https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2020/march/dunne-pre-northampton/

“Unfortunately, he is a player we haven’t really had a chance to see anything of. But the positive is that we’re starting to clear out the treatment room now.

“The more we have to train with, the better. What we’ve seen is a real enthusiasm to learn and we’re seeing good improvements in our younger players as well.”

Dunne also discussed the ‘improvements’ he has seen from the players since the management team’s first game against Northampton in December - with the Stags set to take on the Cobblers once again this weekend.

“There are always areas for improvement - anyone will tell you that, even if you’re doing well and doing a lot of good things,” he explained.

“We’ve tried to eradicate as many individual errors as we can - we’ve worked very hard to try and improve that.

“But it’s been really pleasing to see the effort the players are showing to get to the level the gaffer [Graham Coughlan] wants.

“There are one or two individuals showing that - young and old. The players we brought in [in January] are now starting to flourish.

“We’re starting to see improvements in individuals. The strikers are getting chances and we’re working very hard at our game.

“There are a lot of positive things we can maintain moving forward towards the end of the season and into next season.

“We’ve been here long enough now to say: ‘these are the improvements that we’re making’ and ‘these are the improvements we can add.’

“The gaffer is quite astute with that and you start to get a skeleton of the team you want to go forward with - it’s just a case of adding bits and pieces to it.”

Looking ahead to the weekend’s Sky Bet League Two fixture, Dunne says that the Stags ‘have enough’ to cause Northampton problems, but the amber and blue will have to be wary of the Cobblers’ threats.

“Northampton have been pretty consistent in their performances,” he said. “They’re in a position to challenge for promotion and have good strengths.

“But we just want to keep playing at the moment as we feel we’re getting close to where we need to be.

“It’s a big challenge for us, of course, but one that we’ll embrace and go into with a positive attitude.

“They [Northampton] are in the business end of the season where they need to pick up results and home wins - but we feel like that in our position we can go there and carry a threat.

“We can now see that in every game as we’re creating chances and feel we’re getting stronger as a unit and defensively. We have enough about us to cause Northampton one or two problems.

“But of course, we need to be ready for the strengths of Northampton.”

Saturday’s fixture will signal two weeks since Mansfield’s last outing, a 1-0 defeat away at Cheltenham Town which was followed by the weekend’s postponed fixture against league leaders Swindon Town.

Dunne says the decision to postpone Saturday’s game was the correct one, and that the Stags utilised their time with an extra training session.

“It was the correct decision [to call the Swindon game off] and it was an easy decision. The condition of the pitch, unfortunately, was saturated. No chance football could have been played on it.

“As the day progressed, it didn’t get any better, so I think the right decision was made at the right time.

“We trained on Saturday. We managed to get on a pitch which had more of a raised level and managed to get a good session into the players on Saturday.

“We used Saturday afternoon to go and watch games and players. I went to watch Cambridge play Carlisle as it’s down in my neck of the woods.

“I think we’d rather have played on Saturday because of all the preparation we’d done going into it. You have to get yourself motivated for the game, so sometimes training can have a negative effect, but the players were excellent on Saturday morning.

“We did the work we needed to do and we go into this week doing exactly the same.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Joe’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.

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Stags confirm appointment of goalkeeper coach
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 3rd March 2020

In Tuesday morning’s news conference, assistant manager Joe Dunne confirmed that the Stags have appointed vastly experienced goalkeeper coach Seamus McDonagh.

McDonagh, 67, has worked with the likes of Nottingham Forest, Sunderland and Republic of Ireland as goalkeeper coach, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Stags’ coaching setup.

As a player, he appeared for Bolton Wanderers, Everton and Notts County, turning out for his country - Republic of Ireland - on 25 occasions.

Stags’ assistant boss Dunne (below) says that McDonagh is a ‘great character’ who will be ‘brilliant’ for the Mansfield goalkeepers to have around.

https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2020/march/stags-confirm-appointment-of-goalkeeper-coach/

“We’re delighted Seamus has been able to join us between now and the end of the season. Obviously a position that needed filling, with the goalkeeper’s that we’ve got.

“He has great experience and worked at the highest level with Republic of Ireland. He’s followed Martin O’Neill and he brings calmness, experience and great coaching knowledge.

“It’s also good for us as a staff to speak to him and bounce things off him. He’ll be brilliant for Stoney [Aidan Stone] and Bobby [Olejnik].

“Personally, I’ve not known him for long, but the gaffer [Graham Coughlan] has known him for longer than I have.

“Knowing what he’s done in the game and what we’ve seen during the short time he’s been in, he’s a great character to have around and we can only benefit from him.

“Certainly the goalkeepers will benefit from having him around, just from his experience.”

To hear more from Joe Dunne, head to mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today to watch his news conference in full.

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Mansfield Town summer new players hit list is taking shape
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas, Tuesday 3rd March 2020

Mansfield Town are well advanced in drawing up a summer hit list of new recruits.

Assistant boss Joe Dunne said: “I won't lie - we are busy. We are putting a good data base together similar to what we had previously.

“We are out watching games and trying to monitor all the players on our hit list.

“Saturday gave us a good opportunity to do that as we don't get the opportunity to see most of them live.

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town-summer-new-players-hit-list-taking-shape-2068161

“As we get to the end of the season we start to narrow it down and you get a really good hit list. We feel we are close to that.

“We will do due diligence as would most clubs. But we are pretty active.”

He added: “We will have a plan before we go into the off season.

“We have been here long enough now to say these are the improvements we are making and what we can add.

“The gaffer is quite astute at that and you start to get a skeleton together of the kind of team you want to go forward with. It's just a case then of adding bits and pieces to it.”

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Round two as Mansfield Town square up to Northampton Town for second time under Graham Coughlan
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas

Graham Coughlan crosses swords with ex-Mansfield Town manager Keith Curle's promotion-chasing Northampton Town for a second time this Saturday.

The Cobblers were boss Coughlan's first opposition after taking over as manager in December when they drew 1-1 at the One Call Stadium.

Now, 14 games later, assistant boss Joe Dunne said: “Northampton were our first opponents when Graham came in and it was a tough game.

“We expect another tough game at Northampton, so we just have to prepare ourselves.

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/round-two-mansfield-town-square-northampton-town-second-time-under-graham-coughlan-2087488

“We think our performance levels are good at the moment. We think we are becoming more consistent. So we go there with confidence we can give them a really good game.

“Fitness has improved and we are also starting to see players express themselves a bit more in games.

“Northampton have been pretty consistent in their performances and they are in a position to challenge for promotion.

“They have good strengths and they are also coming off the back of a good result.

“We just want to keep playing at the moment as we feel we're getting close to where we need to be.

“The more games we play the more we feel results will come.

“It's a big challenge of course, but it's one we will embrace and go there with a positive attitude.”

Northampton have seen big changes in playing personnel under Curle, but he looks to have turned their fortunes around for the better.

“They made wholesale changes and he's managed to get a formula there that works. He has done it before,” said Dunne.

“They are now in a position at this business end of the season that they need to pick up wins and results - and home games are vital.

“But we showed at Cheltenham that we carry a threat. We are creating chances in every game and feel we are getting stronger as a unit defensively.

“We have enough about us to be able to cause Northampton one or two problems. But, of course, we need to be ready for the strengths of Northampton.”

Cobblers boss Curle said they would not be underestimating Mansfield, despite their lowly position.

“If you look at their squad in isolation you would probably say it’s a squad that should be in the top seven,” he said.

“They shouldn’t be where they are but for whatever reason it hasn’t quite happened for them this season.

“Graham Coughlan has come in and he will be putting down his fundamentals and a platform in place looking to next season.

“They are a dangerous team because they have still got a lot of good players and they still have a lot of the players who got them near the top of the league last season.

“I like to win games at home because that’s where the majority of our fans see us, but in saying that I want to win every game we play.”

Stags could welcome both Alex MacDonald and Matt Preston back into the squad after injury, leaving only Kellan Gordon on the treatment table.

“The positive thing is we're getting the treatment room emptied out this week,”! Said Dunne.

“We expect Alex MacDonald to get some grass time this week which is encouraging, the same with Matt Preston, which is another positive.

“I would think they'd be in contention for the matchday squad if they come through a tough week.

“The key thing with having those players back means it will add to the competition.

“Kellan's process is unfortunately a bit slower. It's important we give him the best time possible to be able to showcase his talents to us as, unfortunately, he is a player we've not yet been able to see anything of.”

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Postponement forced Mansfield Town to quickly refocus on Northampton Town task
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas

Mansfield Town were forced to swiftly refocus on Saturday when a home game against Swindon Town suddenly became the start of preparation to face Northampton Town.

After a week of work to combat a footballing Swindon side, heavy rain forced the game to be postponed and Stags were left to find somewhere else to quickly begin preparations for Saturday's expected physical contest at Northampton.

Assistant Stags boss Joe Dunne said: “Obviously we'd rather have played than trained on Saturday due to all the preparation we'd done. You then have to try to restart.

“To get motivated for a game and then train can sometimes have a negative effect, but the players were excellent on Saturday morning and did everything we needed to do.

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/postponement-forced-mansfield-town-quickly-refocus-northampton-town-task-2087012

“Every team you prep against is different. So we now need to focus quickly on a different type of opposition.”

He added: “We had access to a grass pitch close to the stadium that was slightly higher up with better drainage.

“So we managed to get in a tough session and then picked up a couple of games in the afternoon to get our eyes on teams and players. It turned into a busy day.

“I went to watch Cambridge play Carlisle, which was down my neck of the woods.”

Despite the frustration, Dunne had no issues with the postponement.

“With the amount of rain we've had and the water table, it was the right decision,” he said.

“The groundsman and his staff had done all they could to try to get the game on, but it was pretty wet on there and I think the game would have been farcical.

“It was bad - probably one of the worst I've seen for a long time in terms of wet weather.

“I know there's not been many game called off at Mansfield for a long time but it was more suitable for a swimming gala than a soccer match.

“The right decision was made as early as possible. It was an easy one to make.”

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Mansfield Town will start to experiment once safety is assured
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas

Mansfield Town will give starts to squad players and youngsters once their League Two safety is mathematically certain.

Stags are 13 points clear of the drop with 11 games to go and assistant manager Joe Dunne said he and boss Graham Coughlan wanted to see some of their fringe players and youngsters in action.

“That would be wise,” he said. “Some of the periphery players are not getting regular game time at the moment.

“So I think there will come a time - the gaffer has done it before.

“If we can get to a good position in the league we can look at one or two of these players in a more stressful environment - not so much Craig Davies - he is a super-experienced player - but one or two of the younger players.

“We'd like to give them an opportunity but it's all about timing.

Read more at https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town-will-start-experiment-once-safety-assured-2093801

“They are training with us all the time and learning all the time.”

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Mansfield Town monitor EFL coronavirus threat
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas, Tuesday 3rd March 2020

Mansfield Town assistant boss Joe Dunne expects the current EFL season to be completed, despite the growing threat of coronavirus around the globe.

Stags will have just 10 League Two games to play after Saturday's tough trip to Northampton Town and the number of UK cases remains low.

But the Swiss League have suspended their programme of games for March, lots of games are being postponed in Italy and the International Challenge Cup friendlies have also gone.

The UK Government are monitoring the situation and large gatherings of people could be banned at a moment's notice if, as expected, the virus takes a firmer hold over here.

“We have not had conversations about the season not finishing,” said Dunne.

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town-monitor-efl-coronavirus-threat-2066234

“But coronavirus is something we talk about and need to be aware of.

“The Government are giving their guidelines and we have to be astute in being able to follow them.

“Hygiene is huge, even around the training ground we're talking about it and making sure we follow good procedures.

“In terms of banning sporting events, we just have to listen to what the Government advise.

“I think you have to have a certain amount of people in a stadium - we'll just have to see what happens.”

Dunne does expect things to escalate at some stage.

“I think it's inevitable really with the way things are at the moment throughout the world,” he said.

“We are seeing cases everywhere and it could turn into a pandemic.

“It is something we have to be very very astute about and being sensible about it is important. We will worry about it when we get there.”

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Mansfield Town assistant boss Joe Dunne backing young keeper Aidan Stone to be a big success
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas

Joe Dunne believes young Mansfield Town goalkeeper Aidan Stone has the right personality to succeed.

Having once had a brief taste of the position, the Stags' assistant boss is well aware of the responsibility and pressure being the keeper commands.

“The goalkeeping position at any club is a unique position and a difficult position,” said Dunne ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Northampton Town.

“It's one that brings its own vulnerabilities.

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town-assistant-boss-joe-dunne-backing-young-keeper-aidan-stone-be-big-success-2093802

“It's a lot of responsibility. You're in the spotlight and if you make the slightest mistake it's ten-fold.

“That's why, mentally, it takes such a personality to do it.

“At the moment Aidan's personality is shining through.”

He added: “I actually had to play in goal once - back in 92 I think - and it's one of the worst feelings I've ever had.

“We (Gillingham) managed to beat Blackpool, 3-2 I think it was. A player got sent off the big centre back grabbed me and put me in goal.

“I think it was because I used to play Gaelic football back in Dublin so I could kick the ball up the pitch a long way!”

Dunne said the keeper position had evolved a long way over the year.

“It is such an intense position and they are developing into such a different breed of player now -outfield, feet and so on,” he said.

“They are now an extension of an outfield player, so you have to call them footballers now as well. They are footballers who can use their hands and need all these skill sets.

“Being mentally strong is one of them. When you are a young keeper you are being mentally tested all the time.”

He continued: “We have two keepers trying to push each other and Aidan is a young keeper who is still learning the game.

“He has come in and taken his opportunity but he has still got to keep working with Bobby (Olejnik) and the goalkeeping coach. Hopefully he is starting out on a bright future.

“The gaffer has decided it's his time at this moment to stake his claim to be the number one.”

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Delight as Mansfield Town recruit top class keeper coach
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas, Tuesday 3rd March 2020

Mansfield Town believe that former Ireland international goalkeeper Seamus McDonagh is the perfect addition to their backroom staff.

The ex-Notts County, Everton, Bolton and Rotherham star was this week named as the club's new goalkeeping coach.

Earlier in the season Conrad Logan was taking the sessions with fellow keepers Bobby Olejnik and Aidan Stone, but has since gone out on loan.

McDonagh, who has worked closely with Martin O'Neill at both club and international level, has taken over and assistant boss Joe Dunne said: “We are delighted Seamus has been able to join us between now and the end of the season.

“It's a position that needed filling with the goalkeepers we have got.

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/delight-mansfield-town-recruit-top-class-keeper-coach-2046845

“He has great experience and has worked at the highest level with the Republic of Ireland, following Martin O'Neill.

“He has been there, seen it, done it. But he still has that passion for the game - that hunger to improve people and keep driving on.

“He doesn't live too far away so it's a perfect fit for both parties.

“He keeps in contact with the gaffer and when we knew he was available and the opportunity arose to get him in and get some help, we jumped at it.”

Dunne continued: “He brings calmness and great coaching knowledge.

“It's good for us as a staff to be able to speak to him and bounce things off him. He will give us great knowledge.

“You look at the players and team he has worked with and at the highest level in big competitions. He will be brilliant for Stoney and Bobby.”

McDonagh is known to be a huge character in the game and Dunne smiled: “Graham (Coughlan) has know him longer than I have.

“But knowing what he's done in the game and all about him, and in the short time he's been in, listening to his great stories he's telling us, he's a great character to have around. We can only benefit from it.”

McDonagh won 25 caps for Ireland and made more than 400 appearances in the English leagues. He then became a goalkeeping coach, most recently working as head goalkeeping coach at Nottingham Forest.

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Goalkeeper explains influence of former England colleagues
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 3rd March 2020

In Tuesday morning’s news conference, goalkeeper Aidan Stone discussed the ‘massive’ impact working with three England international goalkeepers at Burnley had on his development as a player.

Stone, 20, has been Mansfield’s starting ‘keeper in the last two games, after arriving at One Call Stadium from the Clarets in the summer.

The shot-stopper - speaking to iFollow Stags - explained that working with the likes of Nick Pope, Tom Heaton and Joe Hart still has influences on his game today.

“In my first season at Burnley, Nick Pope wasn’t an England international, so it was more Tom Heaton,” he began.

“But then Joe Hart joined the following summer and they’d all represented England. You get the chance to train with them after watching them on TV for the last five years, so that was a bit surreal at the time.

“They do a lot of work in the gym to maintain their bodies to keep at that optimum performance level.

https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2020/march/stone-pre-northampton/

“Me and Tom Heaton did a lot of work in the gym and I tried to take the exercises he was doing into my gym programmes. I still try and do that now.

“Learning from the best was massive for me. It’s nice to have them as colleagues but also as friends.

“Nick Pope sent me a message after the Newport game, congratulating me on my debut and telling me to keep working hard and doing what I do best.”

Stags’ no.31 also spoke of his season so far, and his rise from third-choice goalkeeper to number one in recent weeks, making his debut in the 1-0 home win over Newport.

“On a personal basis, the season has been good. Obviously at the start of the season, I was in and around the first team. Getting to know a lot of the lads and being in that first team environment was where I wanted to be,” he added.

“When you have the likes of Conrad [Logan] and Bobby [Olejnik], who are top goalkeepers, I knew it was going to be tough [to get in the first team].

“But I’m just happy to be given the chance and want to play as many games as possible, taking it game by game.

“I’m grateful for every opportunity that I get - getting the chance to come here and keep pursuing the career that I’ve always wanted was massive for me.

“[I knew I was starting against Newport] on the Friday. The gaffer [Graham Coughlan] told me just before we had our meeting and said ‘are you ready to play tomorrow?’

“I was a bit in shock at first, but it was something throughout the whole evening I was then looking forward to. There’s that element of excitement, but you have to then focus on doing your job in the game and taking all of that excitement away.

“I was hoping for a clean sheet before the game - the boys defended really well and I didn’t have a shot to save. That’s testament to the lads, bouncing back after Leyton Orient.

“It was a frustrating one [at Cheltenham] - I think a lot of the boys were hurt after the game, because we created so many chances.

“For us to concede a goal like that - don’t get me wrong, it was a really good cross - but we look back on it and we’ve done really well in that game.”

The goalkeeper also spoke of his main assets as a player, saying: “My main quality is my talking - I like to be very loud on the pitch. It keeps me focused and it keeps the lads in front of me focused as well.

“If you have a constant voice behind you, it keeps you mentally and physically switched on.

“I do pride myself on my distribution and my kicking as well. The things I’d like to work on is my power.

“I’ve been working on different power sessions outside and in the gym to try and get my level of performance higher.

It was confirmed by assistant manager Joe Dunne in Tuesday morning’s news conference that the Stags have appointed former Republic of Ireland, Aston Villa, Leicester City, Sunderland and Nottingham Forest goalkeeper coach Seamus McDonagh (below).

Stone, speaking of the appointment, explained the influence that McDonagh has already had on himself and fellow goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik during his short time so far at the club.

“He [McDonagh] is a vastly-experienced goalkeeper coach. He’s worked with top, top goalkeepers at Premier League clubs.

“Goalkeeping now is not just about saving shots, it’s playing out from the back - we’re basically outfield players who are able to use our hands.

“That’s what he gets across to us every day, and we do a lot of work on distribution. For someone like Seamus to come in and work with us, it’s really good for me and Bobby [Olejnik].

“It’s massive for me because I’m only young. I only had two years at Burnley, which is really the only coaching that I’ve had.

“Seamus and Sam Wilson [academy goalkeeper coach] are really focusing on individual parts and what we can improve on.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Aidan’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.

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KEITH CURLE WARY OF 'DANGEROUS' MANSFIELD
https://www.ntfc.co.uk/news/20202/march/kc040320/

Cobblers boss Keith Curle says he is expecting a very tough game as he previews Saturday’s home game with Mansfield Town.

The Stags finished fourth last season and were tipped by many to be among the pacesetters this time around, but Curle says they should not be underestimated in the slightest.

“If you look at their squad in isolation you would probably say it’s a squad that should be in the top seven,” he said.

“They shouldn’t be where they are but for whatever reason it hasn’t quite happened for them this season.

“Graham Coughlan has come in and he will be putting down his fundamentals and a platform in place looking to next season.

“They are a dangerous team because they have still got a lot of good players and they still have a lot of the players who got them near the top of the league last season.

“I like to win games at home because that’s where the majority of our fans see us but in saying that I want to win every game we play and we know we are capable of winning games home and away.

“It was a very professional performance last Saturday and if you read Ian Holloway’s comments after the game that epitomises what we want to do. We stopped them from playing, we played when we could and when we couldn't, we put balls into good areas.”

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