Flynn press Port Vale

Mike Flynn says he hopes to take advantage of playing a day earlier than the other sides in League 2 when the Exiles welcome Port Vale to Rodney Parade on Friday night.

County could temporarily move up to 5th in the League 2 table should they overcome the Valiants in South Wales and Flynn is determined to cash in on the rare opportunity of playing before everybody else.

“I think we can go 5th if we win,” he affirmed.  

“I said last week, if we beat Walsall and then win Friday night then I’m sure anybody would have bitten our hands off for that because I think that’s a real positive stride in what we’re doing as a football club.

“But if we lose and everybody around us wins then we could go down to 12th. It’s fine margins, still wouldn’t be the worst start in the world, but it would be good if we could get the three points against what is a rejuvenated Port Vale side.”

The transformation from the Valiants that Flynn alluded to sees them winning three of their last four league games after winning only once in the opening 12 fixtures.

And Flynn has warned his players to expect a revitalised Port Vale team tomorrow night.

“I’m expecting a tough game,” he continued.  

“Their results have picked up; new manager has come in and they have been playing to their strengths.

“Every game is a difficult game and if you don’t prepare for that then you might as well pack up because you’ll get surprised or you’ll get brought back down to earth if you’re not concentrating right.

“I’m expecting it to be tough but at the same time, I’m confident that if we play to the best of our abilities then we can win the game.”

Talking specifically about the challenge Port Vale will provide to his side, Flynn says he is aware of the quality they possess, and it may just have been that the side struggled to adapt to the new division early in the season.

“They’ve got good players there,” he added.

“They are probably putting it all together now and I’m not saying that’s anything to do with the ex-manager or the new manager.

“Sometimes it takes a team who’ve just been relegated a bit longer to bounce back and shake off the disappointment of the season before.

“I don’t think they’ll be down there at the end of the season and I just hope that they don’t get well clear by using points won against us.”

And although County could rise into the play-offs with a victory, Flynn is setting no specific target for his players just yet.

“I want to finish as high as we can,” he affirmed.

“It is a much better feeling than being at the bottom and looking up and worrying.

“Once you are cemented in the play-offs, you have to go on a bad run to get out of it. Likewise, if you’re in the bottom two, you have to go on a good run to get out of it so it’s positive for us at the moment.

“I’m definitely not getting carried though and I’m not looking past Friday evening.”

The game tomorrow night will bring about the end to a run of three games at Rodney Parade in just six days.

That run started with the outstanding 2-1 victory over League 1 side Walsall in the Emirates FA Cup, something which Flynn feels is a sign of how much the club has progressed in recent months.

“I really think we’re growing as a football club,” he stated.

“How far we can grow to, I don’t know, but we’ll be trying to improve both on and off the pitch.

“Like I’ve said before, I’m not interested in building a team because I want to build a club and a legacy.”

Part of that legacy saw Flynn hand debuts to four academy players during Tuesday’s CheckaTrade Trophy game with Cheltenham Town.

And Flynn again praised the Young Exiles for looking accustomed during the game alongside their first-team compatriots.

He commented: “I think it was a very good evening for the club because we gave four scholars their debut. They held their own and put on a good show against Cheltenham’s first team.

“It was pleasing, and we were the better team, so I was happy with their attitude.”

Flynn also utilised the game as an opportunity to give some first-team players much needed minutes.

Marlon Jackson got his first minutes of the season after suffering a hamstring injury in pre-season while Lamar Reynolds got his first competitive goal for the club.

And Flynn has confirmed that the performances from some of the players on Tuesday night has given him food for thought ahead of tomorrow’s game.  

“I’m not sure about starting although one or two might,” he said.

“There’s a lot of them battling to get in the team. It’s a good feeling because everybody wants to be in the team.

“I’ve got a lot of people messaging me to play for Newport County AFC which you probably wouldn’t have got in the last few years. It shows we’re doing something right and I want to be a big part of it.”

Some further team news ahead of tomorrow’s match sees Joss Labadie ruled out with the calf strain sustained during the Colchester game last month.

Flynn said: “Joss Labadie won’t make it, so I can give you the one I’m certain on.

“I thought he might have been alright for Friday night but it’s not quite there. I’m never going to rush him, so fingers crossed, he’s back next week.”

Labadie joins long-term absentee Calaum Jahraldo as the only players missing for the Exiles and Flynn is confident that other players who have been carrying knocks will be ready in time for the game.

“I won’t really know until tomorrow,” he confirmed.

“I’ve always said that I’d give them until the last minute and we’ve got to see how people train today as-well.

“Ben Tozer was ill. We had to rest Robbie Willmott, but he should be fine.

“Joe Quigley goes Saturday so he’s available for Friday. Marlon came through 70 minutes on Tuesday and I thought he did alright considering he had been out for a long time.

“Lamar has got his confidence back scoring his first goal so it’s a bit healthier. I just wish Labs was back as it would be a near enough fully-fit squad to choose from then.”