RHYS – THE MAN FOR ALL SEA­SON!

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Chris Dunlavy

NEXT time Jose Mour­inho starts whinge­ing about fa­tigue and fix­ture conges­tion, the Manch­ester United boss should have a word with Rhys Ben­nett.

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And with Steve Evans’ Stags sit­ting ninth in the ta­ble pre-week­end, Ben­nett is aim­ing for 5,130. That’s eight more league games, two play­off semis and the fi­nal at Wem­b­ley on May 28!

“If I can play ev­ery minute of the sea­son and win pro­mo­tion at the end of it, I think you could say I’ve earned my sum­mer hol­i­day,” laughs Ben­nett, who was signed from

Un­like any of Mour­inho’s ma­lin­ger­ing mil­lion­aires, the Mans­field de­fender has played EV­ERY minute of EV­ERY game in EV­ERY com­pe­ti­tion this sea­son.

That’s 38 League Two games, six in the Check­a­trade Tro­phy and one each in the FA Cup and EFL Cup.

It adds up to a grand to­tal of 4,140 min­utes. Rochdale in June af­ter four sea­sons at Spot­land. “I knew I’d played ev­ery game, but it wasn’t un­til the EFL tweeted the stats this week that I re­ally stopped and thought ‘Yeah, that’s de­cent’. “Ob­vi­ously. there could be teams who’ve played more in­jury time or had bet­ter cup runs, but in terms of the min­utes avail­able I’m on 100 per cent.

“I’ve got a good few friends in foot­ball and some of them got in touch.

“They were like ‘How are your legs? Aren’t they hang­ing off ?’ But they’re not. I ac­tu­ally feel per­fectly all right. And I’m quite an ath­letic player, al­ways up and down the pitch.

“It’s great for me be­cause I played only 18 times last sea­son through in­juries and nig­gles.

“Now, let’s see if I can keep it go­ing to the end of the sea­son.”

Ex­pe­ri­ence

The 25-year-old also paid trib­ute to man­ager Evans, who re­placed Adam Mur­ray in Novem­ber with the Stags ly­ing 18th in the ta­ble. The former Rother­ham and Leeds boss has since won 12 of his 25 games. “He’s got a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence,” adds Ben­nett, who won pro­mo­tion from League Two with Rochdale in 2014. “That’s noth­ing against Adam, who is a very ta­lented young man­ager. “But the gaffer has changed lit­tle things, brought in new play­ers who’ve added that ex­tra bit of qual­ity to the squad. We went un­beaten for nine or ten games.

“All of that has in­stilled a be­lief that we are good play­ers and, if we per­form to our max­i­mum, we will win games.

“He’s also got the fans be­hind us.

“We’ve prob­a­bly dou­bled the at­ten­dances. We’ve got a singing sec­tion. He’s done nights where fans can go and ask him ques­tions.

“He’s brought ev­ery­one – play­ers, fans and staff – a lot closer.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

EVER-PRESENT: Mans­field’s Rhys Ben­nett, right, has been a per­ma­nent fix­ture and, inset, Manch­ester United boss Jose Mour­inho

IM­PACT: Stags boss Steve Evans

OUT FRONT: Northamp­ton’s David Buchanan

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