Mansfield boss Steve Evans believes this weekend’s opponents Cambridge United will make the League Two play-offs – something he hopes his side can do too.
The U’s are currently eighth in the division, just a place and one put outside the play-offs with a game in hand, and Evans has tipped them to be fighting for promotion come the end of the season.
After coming 9th last season, a play-off campaign would be further improvement for Shaun Derry’s side, who are currently unbeaten in their last seven league games, and Evans told the Cambridge News: “We know Saturday is going to be extremely tough.
“We are going down to face a team that I think will finish in the play-offs.
“They did take Leeds United apart for 60 minutes in a cup tie and I know the quality that is at Elland Road, so we are coming up against an opposition that’s certainly going to be up there.”
However, Mansfield themselves harbour hopes of a top-seven finish, and Evans’ side are in good enough form to challenge Cambridge on Saturday afternoon.
Currently unbeaten in four, and with three clean sheets in that sequence of games, the Stags find themselves 14th and just five points behind Cambridge – a brilliant turnaround since Evans arrived at the club.
But the former Leeds, Rotherham, and Crawley boss is wary of promotion talk, and said: “We’ve been to Notts County, we go down to Cambridge, we come home to Leyton Orient and then go away to Barnet, so there are three away games out of four.
“I know it levels itself out, but at this difficult time of the year as it gets towards the third week in January, it’s a key period in the season.
“So we need to retain that five or six point gap to the play-off places as a minimum and then see how February, March and April go.”
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