Boss speaks to the media ahead of Mansfield match
Town boss Nathan Jones said he is expecting a “stern test” this Saturday as his side take on a Mansfield Town side managed by former Hatter Adam Murray.
Although Jones’ first team haven’t had a midweek match, he has had a lot to reflect on with the FA Cup first round draw giving the Town a trip to Exeter City, Craig Mackail-Smith returning to action and Danny Hylton’s one-match ban.
Mackail-Smith played for 45 minutes in the development side’s victory over Barton Rovers in the Beds FA Senior Cup on Tuesday night. Jones was impressed by the 32-year-old, who he worked with at Brighton & Hove Albion.
The Welshman said: “Craig looked sharp the other day. He can come on as an impact player for the first team, he can give you that impetus.
“The way he trains and the way he looks after himself, the type of athlete he is, he can give you that sort of thing. He is another option.”
The Hatters will be without Hylton for the second time this season, as he serves a suspension for accumulating five yellow cards. It poses an issue for Jones, who hailed the ex-Oxford United striker as his ‘main man’ after last week’s win at Leyton Orient.
Jones said: “We know what we are going to do, Danny is going to be a miss for us. He would be for any team in this league and the league above, in all honesty.
“But we are going to have to learn to cope without him. We have learnt how to cope without him, because obviously we had to do it before at Hartlepool.”
Striker Jack Marriott was the main spark behind both goals last Saturday against Orient, and Jones is more than content with the 22-year-old’s performances.
“He has gone a few without scoring and that is a personal thing for him, not for me though, I am happy with the way he is playing and contributing,” Jones said. “If others are scoring, it isn’t hindering the team because we are second top goal scorers in the league, so it’s not a problem.
“As long as he continues those performance levels then the goals will come, because he is that type of player.”
This weekend’s opponents Mansfield Town are in decent form themselves as they are currently on a five-match unbeaten run, a 1-1 draw against Wycombe Wanderers last weekend continuing that impressive sequence.
Jones knows his side are in for a rough ride if they are going to get a result, but he has made sure his players are at their prime for the contest.
He said: “Mansfield are a tough side. It’ll be a very stern test. We have prepared for that, anything different will be a surprise, but we know what we are going to get from them.
“They are organised and they’ll have a right go. They have got some real important players and we are going to have to be wary of that.
“Darius Henderson is a player I know and someone I played with. He can be a threat if you allow him to be, so we are wary of what they will bring.”