Ahead of the Wednesday evening fixture at Boundary Park, Head Coach Harry Kewell spoke to iFollow Latics about the fixture and the transfer window.
With the full focus now on Sky Bet League Two his side entertain the Stags who have won their last three games in the division and are the first of two fixtures in a week for Latics against teams in and around their current position.
“The extra 24 hours has obviously helped our preparation in terms of playing on Wednesday instead of Tuesday, it's allowed some of the injured players to get match ready. It’s also allowed us to put in another good session to work on ideas. But like I said, we're coming into a stage of the league where we are playing a lot of teams in and around us and also playing teams that we've just recently beaten.
“So it's going to be an interesting time for us. I think it's going to show a lot of character from my team of what they can produce and hopefully we can show the league itself, that it wasn't a one-off fluke. It's something that we're working on and trying to improve and take these steps forward and it starts again tomorrow against a good team.
On Mansfield, he added: “They're a hardworking team, especially with their new manager who has a strict way of playing and is starting to get results. They were unlucky against Cheltenham in the FA Cup so they're going to want to get back on track against us.
“It's going to be one of the more very difficult games. But it’s another home game and hopefully we can start to put that right and concentrate on putting a good performance in and move slowly and steadily up the table.”
Coming up against Nigel Clough’s Mansfield, Kewell is under no illusions that they present a threat but knows the hard work has been done to prepare the team in the best way possible.
“That’s the problem we face, you take out their FA Cup defeat, the way that they're conducting themselves in the league is a threat to any team. So we're going to have to be at our very best. We have a good idea of what possibility they could do. But again, we've got to be able to adapt because he could come out with any kind of formation he wants, which is the same as us, both teams are very versatile. So again, as much as we prepared for Mansfield, we’ve still got to be ready for a surprise attack, and we will be.”
He continued: “We have no other choice now than to focus on league. It would’ve been nice to have gone through to the next round because it always gets that momentum going and gets everyone happy. But we can't really feel sorry for ourselves as we came up against a very good Bournemouth team and it's as simple as that. It'd be interesting to see how my team reacts as it’s something we’ve prided ourselves on this season coming out of difficult defeats and getting a result or performance straight away.
“As I’ve said, they've worked well in training this week, we’ve recovered and we’re raring to go. The game against Mansfield is going to take a lot of dedication and concentration, as well as a lot of discipline and hard work.
“They can be direct and will cause us problems in areas we’ve picked out but like any game of football in this division, if you work hard we'll always give ourselves a good chance.”
With January already two weeks in, the Head Coach is also working away from the training pitch on improving fortunes by bringing fresh faces in and is confident a deal can be done in the window.
“It’s always nice and one of my aims to create good competition in a number of positions and although 11 spots are only available, I’m looking to add one or two people that we've recognised can fit into the team and squad I’m trying to build.
“We're very close to signing at least one soon, which is fantastic and I think he’ll be a great addition to what I believe is a strong, talented but young outfit.
“It will ultimately create more competition, so the players will have to, again, step up, which is what we want. We always want to upgrade the team. We always want to push players to become better.
“We have to keep improving not for ourselves but to make sure we're doing the right thing for the football club.”