Flynn press Carlisle

Mike Flynn says his squad are prepared for a return to league action as Carlisle United head to Rodney Parade on Saturday.

The Exiles head into the game searching for their first home win in League 2 for two months.

Since the 2-0 victory over Yeovil Town, County have only picked up two points from the four league games in South Wales.

Carlisle, meanwhile, head to Rodney Parade on the back of a run of form that sees them suffer defeat in just one of their last six league matches.  

And Flynn says he is aware of the challenge that the perennial promotion challengers will pose on Saturday.

“They are a big threat,” he affirmed.

“We saw them at the end of last season where we lost 2-1 and I thought they were outstanding in the second-half.

“They’ve got some really good players, hit a little bit of form now so they are going to be there or there-abouts again. If we can win on Saturday then it would be a great win for us.”

In the opposition dugout at Rodney Parade will be Keith Curle.

Curle is a vastly experienced player and coach, playing in over 750 games and managing just under 400.

The 54-year old was very complimentary of the work County were doing when they went to Brunton Park in April last season, and Flynn was proud to receive that praise from someone of such a high stature.

“He was a very good player as-well,” he commented.

“Somebody of his experience giving me praise is always welcome but that’s also down to my backroom staff and the players.

“They have helped me get us in that position and I’m not one who likes to take all the plaudits, I think you know yourself that I’m the first one to share it out.

“But of course, it was nice to be talked about. Keith has had a very good playing and managerial career, but I just hope that it doesn’t get any better on Saturday.”

People who purchase a ticket for Saturday’s game will receive the extra incentive of having a greater chance of securing a ticket for next month’s Emirates FA Cup Third Round clash with Leeds United.

And Flynn is pleased to see this initiative being rolled out for the Carlisle game and he hopes to see a bumper crowd as a direct result.

“I think it’s a brilliant idea,” he commented.

“I know that for the Leeds game, the hospitality is as good as sold out so that’s not bad four weeks before the game.

“Leeds will bring a lot down so let’s maximise what we can against Carlisle as-well. I think Leeds will be a sell-out, and it’ll be a great atmosphere like last season against Notts County.”

There are still six league games for the Exiles to play before that cup tie, three at Rodney Parade and three on the road.

And Flynn has reiterated his stance that the league games must take greatest priority for his side.

“Leeds are at the back of my mind now if I’m honest,” he stated.  

“Obviously, we had the excitement of the draw on Monday night, but from Tuesday morning I haven’t given it a second thought.

“I’ve been doing all the work that we need for Carlisle on Saturday and that’s the most important thing on my mind at the minute.”

Some early team-news for the Carlisle game sees one doubt for County, as Scot Bennett continues to work his way back from a hip adductor injury.

But Flynn confirmed Bennett is in with a fighting chance of making a return on the weekend.

“Calaum and Marlon are still out,” he confirmed.  

“I think Scot Bennett will be back in training today but whether he’s fit for Saturday, at the moment I’m not sure.

“It gives us competition for places. That is what I want, I want these tough decisions and as much as it sounds horrible, I do like telling players that I’m sorry but you’re not in the squad today.

“That means that others have done more but as horrible as it is at that point, you know you’re doing something right because you’re leaving good players out.”

Flynn also confirmed that some players are staking their case for a place in his starting squad with their performances in training.

“They are all pushing for starting places if I’m honest,” he said.  

“Lamar probably had his best week of training last week so he’s another one that is not forgotten by a long shot.

“He came from a low level, started off like a steam train, then it starts kicking in with the full rhythm of full time training.

“We’ve got to be careful with him, you have to blood him into the squad in the right way and we have to make sure he’s ready for the physical part of League 2.

“He’s certainly adapting to that a little bit better than he had been.”

Continuing on Reynolds: “As soon as I feel it is his time then he will be on.

“He’s a talent and just because he hasn’t played, don’t think that I don’t rate him. I do rate him, but it has to be the right time.

“You don’t want to put him in and have his confidence shattered and go back six weeks. You’ve also got to make sure that you don’t keep him back too long or his confidence will go the other way.

“It’s a juggling act. I speak to Wayne, Lennie and Lamar a lot. He’s in a good place at the moment and he’s just one of them that is pushing for a place.”

To give some players much needed minutes, Flynn also revealed that the club had a behind-closed-doors friendly with Bristol City last week.

And Flynn was encouraged by the results of the players selected.

He added: “We had a reserve game behind closed doors last weekend against Bristol City.

“I’ve got a good relationship with Lee Johnson who is doing a fantastic job there.

“It gave me a chance to look at a few of their players and it gave some of our players an opportunity to have a run out.

“They did well, we lost 3-1, but they had a very strong team to be fair and I was very pleased with what I saw from my players.”

Flynn has also been getting his players to take some time out of their rigorous training schedule and do some team bonding activities.

That started with a round of crazy golf at the Celtic Manor last week, something which Flynn thought helped his squad prepare for the Emirates FA Cup encounter with Cambridge.  

He commented: “It just happened to be that last week we had the crazy golf. It was a good crack, the boys enjoyed it and it worked well for Sunday.

“We went in on Sunday and put in a good performance so let’s hope that we do the same this weekend.

“This month is a big month, we’ve got six games and five of those are teams in the play-off positions or there-abouts. It’s going to be an interesting period, especially if we win them all.”

This week the squad also went to Mo’s Boxing and Fitness Academy for another change to their training schedule.

And Flynn was certainly pulling no punches as to his opinions on who was the best boxer within his squad.

“It definitely wasn’t Frank,” he affirmed.  

“And I was a bit surprised with the Irish boys as-well because I thought they would like a tussle.

“Pipey did a bit of boxing in the summer so I don’t think he’d be very happy if I didn’t mention his name, you know what he’s like.

“They all gave it a real good go. Matty Dolan was alright, but I think they were all just behind me.”

And Flynn also reiterated that he wants to give his players variation in their training schedule.

He continued: “Don’t think that I just thought I’d take them boxing for the sake of it. We’ve got a lot of games coming up, so I had to be careful as to the amount of work they do on their legs.

“I needed to look after them, so we decided to go down there, still get a good workout there as in calories burnt and energy used up, without putting the pressure on their legs as much. Hopefully we come out fighting on Saturday.”