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In normal times we would have been at the end of the 2019/20 season with news coming from clubs up and down the country regarding their retained lists and today Mansfield have released theirs.

Alex MacDonald

Last week, Mansfield, who are managed by Graham Coughlan who played twice for Burnley in the 2006/07 season, appointed former Wigan chairman David Sharpe as their new director of football. Sharpe’s granddad, of course, once broke his leg in the FA Cup Final.

There are three former Burnley players at Mansfield with the most experienced of them becoming one of eleven players released today. Alex MacDonald has been with the Stags since January 2017 and has made over 100 league appearances for them. Now aged 30, it’s over twelve years since Alex made his Burnley debut in a 3-3 home draw against Cardiff, a game that is probably best remembered for Andrew Cole chasing Cardiff’s Darren Purse across the pitch and up the tunnel after the Cardiff player had been sent off.

Since leaving Burnley, Alex has gone on to play for Plymouth, Burton, Oxford and Mansfield and has now clocked almost 380 career appearances.

Unfortunately, he suffered an injury in a home draw against Carlisle on 1st February which required surgery and was on the road to recovery when the season was halted, a season that, for League Two clubs, has now ended.

While Alex is now looking for a new club at the most difficult of time, there is some good news for the two young players who were released by us and joined Mansfield last summer, goalkeeper Aidan Stone and defender James Clarke.

Both players last featured for the Clarets in the 2018/19 Lancashire Senior Cup Final, Clarke playing in an unaccustomed midfield position watched by some members of his family.

James Clarke & Aidan Stone

He joined Mansfield’s development squad for pre-season training last July but has established himself at Field Mill; he’s made sixteen first team appearances, twelve of them in the league.

Stone, who arrived at Burnley from Staffordshire club Brocton, was signed by Mansfield as third choice goalkeeper behind Bobby Olejnic and Conrad Logan although he immediately got a place on the first team bench with Olejnic starting the season with an injury.

Logan played the first half of the season but, since January, has been out on loan at Forest Green. At that time he was replaced by Olejnic but, in mid-February, after a couple of disappointing performances, Stone stepped up into the first team and played in their last three games before the shut down.

Both Clarke and Stone have today been offered extensions to their contracts and will remain with Mansfield next season. Clarke will be hoping to get even more first team football under his belt while Stone could find himself continuing as first choice keeper with both Logan and Olejnic having been released today.

We’d like to send our congratulations to both James and Aidan while wishing Alex all the very best as he looks to restart his career elsewhere.

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