Mike Flynn says his side are mentally prepared for what will be one of the most important games of the season when Cambridge United are the visitors to Rodney Parade in the Second Round of the Emirates FA Cup on Sunday.
The Exiles meet the U’s for only the second time in this competition, looking to make it through to the Third Round for the first time since the 2015/16 season.
And Flynn was making no secrets about how important the game is for the team.
“It’s huge,” he affirmed.
“I’ve just said how cold it is in the interview room and it’s got that winter feeling about it now.
“That always reminds me of the FA Cup, especially when I was playing, because you get that feeling. That helps add to the spice of the FA Cup and it’s something I’m really looking forward to.
“If we can get through to the next round and get a big draw, then it’ll be huge for the football club.
“But we’ve got a tough team in-front of us and I certainly won’t be thinking about the third round until we get past Cambridge.”
Standing in County’s way are a Cambridge side who possess the highest number of clean sheets in the Football League this season, having amassed ten of them already this campaign.
But Flynn is wary of how much this game will also mean to the visitors, pointing to the fact that they played Premiership opposition in the Emirates FA Cup only a few seasons ago and are reaping the benefits.
He said: “They’ve had it recently when they played against Manchester United.
“They know all about it, we know all about it and that means it is going to be a tough game.
“Whoever makes the least mistakes on Sunday will win the football match I think.”
A place in Monday’s draw could potentially provide a sizable cash injection for the Exiles.
And Flynn was making no allusions as to what he wanted to put any potential earnings towards.
He said: “I’d want to see it go towards a training ground. I don’t think unless we get another couple of those ties then it won’t be enough for a new stadium.
“It could certainly be a new start on our own training ground which we would own, and it’ll definitely be a step in the right direction to bring everybody under one roof.
“The community, the academy and the first team all on one site – it’s a dream but you have to have those dreams because they will come true.”
He continued: “I’m more interested in building a club here.
“Don’t get me wrong, I want to do well on matchdays and in league standings but I’m sure that I will feel a lot better for the football club if I could help produce a training ground or something of that stature.
“That would be something that the club could own and have for the rest of the days long after I’ve gone.”
Asked on whether the Emirates FA Cup provided that extra bit of passion to himself personally, Flynn confirmed there is something special about the competition.
He commented: “It does excite me because it’s for so many reasons that we’ve just talked about.
“The supporters could have a chance of having a great away day. The players can hopefully test themselves against the best players in the world so it’s almost like winning the lottery if you get to do them.
“If you ever get to play at Anfield, Old Trafford, Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal – it’s huge. But you’ve also got the other teams who you would like to draw like Newcastle, who always fill out the stadium, and have a big following.
“Trust me, there’s no better feeling than playing in those sorts of games.”
Asked the same question with regards to his players, Flynn confirmed his squad have just been treating the match simply as another day at the office.
“No change in the lads,” he stated.
“They were fantastic before the Swindon game and they were fantastic after the Swindon game.
“There was no pressure on us and I think we’ll find out over the course of the season that it will even itself out.
“I think you can see what’s happened in football over the last week or two with the amount of late goals that teams are conceding, even at the top level as-well, that it does happen.
“It’s football, we’ve got to make sure it doesn’t happen anymore against us and that’s what we’ve been working on.”
That victory in Wiltshire against Swindon Town was the first in seven league games for the Exiles, with only the victory over Walsall in the first round of this competition coming for the side since October 14th.
And Flynn was pleased to see the team get their just rewards for another great away performance.
“We kept a clean sheet and didn’t make any mistakes,” he affirmed.
“The goal at Accrington could have hit someone’s leg and gone wide so it evens itself out.
“It just happened to be that it was three times in a row. It’s never really happened to us before when I’ve been here with the late goals so hopefully it will be like a London bus, they all come at once.
“It is what it is, we’re in a very good position in the league and still in the cup so it’s very positive.”
And Flynn reiterated that even when the Exiles had been going through that winless run, he was always pleased with the effort and commitment of his team.
“I’ve got a great group,” he stated.
“They are so honest and hard-working. Yes, we make mistakes, but they are so hard-working.
“And I get that day in, day out. There’s not many times where I have to have a word with them in training to get them going because they do that themselves. They get themselves going and that’s what I want to create here.
“They need to be proud to wear the badge and they’ve all bought into it. And you can see that on matchdays as-well which is the most important thing.”
Some early team-news for the encounter with Cambridge on Sunday unfortunately sees Marlon Jackson suffering a recurrence of the hamstring injury sustained in pre-season.
And Flynn confirmed the striker will again be a long-term absentee for the Exiles.
He confirmed: “Marlon is out injured again, and it looks like it’s going to be a lengthy one.
“He’s done his hamstring again – more like eight weeks out which is not good. He was in contention again, looking sharp in training but unfortunately, it’s happened again.
“It’s frustrating for me, frustrating for him and it’s frustrating for the physio department because they did everything right with his rehab which they should, maybe over-cautious at times, so it’s just one of those things.
“I spoke to him Wednesday when the results came through and he’s come in today.
“But, I’ll probably give him some time off next week if I’m honest to let him get away and recharge the batteries.”
Flynn was also able to provide an update on the fitness of players who were either ruled out or injured during last weekend’s game.
He added: “Robbie is back after serving his concussion time period. I never want to jeopardise the long-term safety of a player and his health, but he is available.
“I’m hoping Mark O’Brien will also be available.
“It’s not looking good for Scot Bennett, so it looks like one in, one out kind of thing at the moment.
“I just think this week has come too soon for Scot. He’s tweaked his hip adductor so it’s not that bad of an injury.”