O'Toole could return for Mansfield Town at Sixfields as Clough faces dilemma over striker

The striker has 15 goals this season but a return to Mansfield’s squad is not straightforward
John-Joe O'TooleJohn-Joe O'Toole
John-Joe O'Toole

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough is yet to decide whether or not he will make Danny Johnson available to feature in Saturday’s League Two fixture against the Cobblers at Sixfields.

The in-form striker returned to the Stags earlier this week after scoring 15 goals on loan at promotion rivals Walsall. Several clubs in the division are said to be interested in signing Johnson permanently should Clough and co decide to sell him.

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However, if Johnson does feature at Sixfields, Mansfield would only be able to send him back to Walsall due to the three-club rule, creating something of a dilemma for Clough.

“We’ve had a couple of bids,” said the Stags boss. “Nothing meets the valuation but we’re very happy to have Danny back. It’s not a problem for us to have him back in and involved.

“The only slight problem we have in the next two weeks is the three club rule which if he plays for us, or just appears on the pitch then he can only play for us or Walsall for the rest of the season. That rules out anybody coming in and buying him in the next week or so.

“If we reach the decision that Danny is going nowhere, and he’s happy with that as well, that he’s going to help us try and get promoted in the second-half of the season, then that becomes irrelevant anyway.

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“I think one bid was accepted but Danny didn’t want to go to that particular club. You’ve got to look at all angles. The player has got to want to go, the clubs have got to agree and if any one of those three parties can’t make it work then it breaks down.”

Mansfield will have Louis Reed available for the weekend after completing a deal for the midfielder from Swindon Town, and former title-winning midfielder John-Joe O’Toole could also make his first league start in over two months.

O’Toole played 90 minutes in a behind-closed-doors match in midweek and is one of several Mansfield players on the way back from injury.

"John-Joe will play 90 minutes and others will use it as a training session,” said Clough. “Some of the injured players are now back out on the grass which is good and they’re off dog-walking duties for a while.

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“Ollie (Clarke) is back on the grass and so is Lucas (Akins). There’s a chance of Lucas training on Friday with a view to being involved on Saturday – probably an outside chance at the moment.

“Ollie Clarke is scheduled hopefully to train next week.”

Anthony Hartigan and Riley Harbottle are long-term injuries.