Mansfield Town's Ritchie Sutton only has eyes for top spot ahead of Woking trip
RITCHIE Sutton is well aware his delight could soon turn to despair tonight after just reclaiming his place back in the Mansfield Town team.
The natural centre-half has for too long been asked to play at full-back and has done a solid job for the Stags' cause, both this season and last.
But the arrival of James Jennings back in January has led to a period of inactivity for 26-year-old Sutton.
Jennings slotted straight in at left-back, Lee Beevers switched to the right and Sutton to the bench, where he has stayed as an unused substitute for weeks as his side continued on a superb run of form, which has now reached nine wins from their last ten league matches.
But on Saturday, an injury to John Dempster meant a recall for Sutton and, ironically, he finally got to play his natural position at the heart of the defence.
Despite helping keep a clean sheet in the 1-0 win against Telford, he is aware Dempster could return from his ankle problem at Woking tonight.
However, Sutton is staying focused on the bigger picture and helping Mansfield back into the Football League after a five-year exile.
With the club now just three points off leaders Wrexham, with a game in hand, he said top spot and automatic promotion is a real possibility.
Tonight, the Stags look to make it eight wins from nine on their travels, their away form so impressive.
And Sutton said: "It was vital we got the win the other day and then to find out we had closed the gap to three points was great. It is all to go for now.
"It makes it a lot more exciting. Last year we wanted to go for the championship but in the end, it wasn't a possibility (despite the good run).
"This time it is possible and we don't want to go in the play-offs if possible because of the heartbreak we suffered in them last year.
"We are looking at the top, we have experience in the camp, also from what happened last season and the aim has to be to go on and win the championship.
"With the game put back to a Wednesday, the extra 24 hours helps with rest and recovery but we know we have to go there and do a professional job."
Last season Mansfield finished the season with 13 wins and a draw from their last 15 games to finish third, only to lose out to York in the play-off semi-finals.
Last season Fleetwood had already runaway with the title, but it couldn't be more different this time around.
For Sutton, though, he was delighted to get back out playing after six weeks without kicking a ball in anger for the first team.
"It was good for me on a personal note to come in and play and help keep a clean sheet," he said. "It was a good win and keeps us hunting for top spot.
"It was a long time since I played centre-half because I have been out of the team recently and then before that was playing at full-back.
"But I enjoyed it and now we will see what happens against Woking."