Exiles manager Mike Flynn has confirmed he is targeting an away tie to a Premiership side in this season’s Emirates FA Cup, ahead of starting this year’s campaign in the competition against Walsall at Rodney Parade on Saturday.
The Exiles made it to the third round during the 2015/16 season and Flynn wants to replicate that this time around.
He said: “It would be great to have a personal accolade or for the lads to go on an FA Cup run.
“But the most important thing is the finances for the club and we’ll be doing our best to get into the second round.
“What’s realistically the aim? It’s to go to the third round and draw one of the big boys away. Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea, I’ve been to Spurs and played there so I don’t want to go there although saying that it would be at Wembley.
“It’s huge for the club and that’s my realistic and ambitious aim.”
Talking specifically about the financial gain for the club, Flynn says you don’t have to look far to see the difference it has made for other League 2 clubs.
He affirmed: “You only have to look at what it has done for Stevenage. It built them a state of the art training ground.
“For Cambridge it has near enough doubled their budget for the next three seasons.
“It can have that huge effect. We want to have our own assets, if we get that good of a run and make one or two million then it can be put aside towards plans for a stadium.
“Or you could build a brand-new training ground where you can get the academy and the community all on one site. It can be a real Newport County club instead of the academy at Lliswerry and the Community where they are in Maindee, so it would be great to have us all together.
“Our motto is OneClubOneCounty and I think that’s what we need.”
Standing in County’s way are a Walsall side who sit 15th in League 1, having picked up six of the previous eighteen points available in the division.
And Flynn is fully confident that the Exiles can more than match opposition from a higher division this weekend.
“Of course, we can make up the difference on our day,” he stated.
“We showed that with the performance at Southend.
“But Walsall have a lot of good players. The manager is settled there and is making some good signings. They play some decent football and it will be a tough game.
“They are a league above us and it’ll be a good challenge.”
Flynn also reiterated that the side are preparing for the game exactly the same as a league match, with the side showing respect to the awaiting opposition but equally showing no fear about playing a side in a higher league.
“I always respect the opposition,” he confirmed.
“If we were sat here now playing Pill AFC, then I would respect them. It’s going to be tough and I just hope we bring our A-game because if we do then we can be a match for a lot of League 1 teams.
“On a one-off, I’m quietly confident we can cause an upset.”
The FA Cup is not a competition that reaped the best rewards for Flynn as a player, although he has challenged his players to make memories for him this season.
“You can make memories that last forever in the FA Cup,” he added.
“I think over the course of the league season, it’s a lot more drawn out. If you get promoted at the end of it or you get to the play-offs, then it’s something to look back on.
“The FA Cup has still got that magic for me and we’ll obviously be treating it as best as we can and hopefully we can put on a show and get into the next round.”
Asked whether an FA Cup game can bring a different atmosphere around the dressing-room, Flynn says the mood has slightly changed ahead of the game.
“It is a little bit different,” he affirmed.
“The pressure is off so to speak a little bit where we are the underdogs. We’re playing a team that are a league above us and there’s something in the short term that can be on the end of it i.e. a second-round draw and a third-round draw if you get that far.
“Like we saw last season where we could have beaten Plymouth and gone to Anfield, it can quickly be swiped away from you so I’m not taking anything for granted and we’ll be doing our preparation with the players today ready for the game.”
The decision to show the game live on S4C means Flynn has to practise his Welsh ready to watch the game back at home.
He joked: “I’ve got to brush up on my Welsh so I can watch the highlights!
“I’ll have to record it with the subtitles on which is quite embarrassing really that I’ve lived in Wales that long and can’t speak the language.
“But it’s really good, it brings maybe that little more excitement in that we’ve got a TV game and there’s also going to be more media around helping to create the buzz that we need.”
This morning’s press conference came on the back of the news that Dan Butler’s red card at Notts County last weekend has been rescinded.
And Flynn was delighted to have his left-back available for this weekend.
“It’s brilliant,” he said.
“I knew it wasn’t a red card Saturday and that’s why I said what I said after the game.
“Things need to be looked at a little bit because its virtually unheard of with us having two players getting off with red cards – one being Wayne and one being Dan.
“I don’t want to say too much because I thought I made my feelings clear on Saturday.
“It’s good that they’ve seen sense at the FA and whilst there’s these kinds of errors happening then it’s going to be a busy time at the FA because there will be a lot of appeals.
“It’s a bonus because Dan has been consistent this season and it’s a big boost for him as-well because he’s somebody that loves playing football and it would have been very harsh on him if he had to miss out on three games.”
Flynn also had some positive news regarding his other full-back, as it looks like David Pipe has recovered from illness in time for the game.
“Pipey is fine,” he added.
“I didn’t want to risk him Saturday because he would have been a bit dehydrated.
“When that happens, it starts to increase muscle injuries. Fair play to Pipey, he wants to play every minute, but you’ve got to be careful.
“I know he looks after himself but he’s nearly 34 now so you have to be careful.”
Two other players to miss the trip to Notts County, captain Joss Labadie and vice-captain Mark O’Brien, are also in with a fighting chance of being available for the game.
“I’m not quite sure,” he confirmed.
“Joss is probably 50/50 and I’m a little more confident on Mark.
“I’d love them both to be back because if you look at it, three out of the five games we’ve lost this season they haven’t played, two of them they haven’t played as a pair.
“They are a big miss for us, but it gives somebody else a chance to go and stake their claim which is what I need.”
There was, however, less positive news regarding Calaum Jahraldo, who is expected to a long-term absentee following his hamstring injury against Swansea City U23s.
“Calaum is out for a long time,” Flynn said.
“I’m not expecting Calaum to be back until Christmas at the earliest.
“It was a bad hamstring one for him so I’m disappointed for Calaum because he works his socks off day in day out, always chomping at the bit for a chance.
“And I thought he was doing alright against Swansea as-well. The only time I told him not to overlap, he overlaps and pulls his hamstring. Afterwards, I told him if you’d have listened to me then you wouldn’t have pulled it, so I don’t think he was too happy with that!”
And striker Paul Hayes is also expected to miss Walsall’s trip to Rodney Parade as he continues to make his way back to full fitness.
Flynn commented: “He’s looking stronger and stronger I’ve got to be honest. He probably had his best day in training on Tuesday, so we’ll go from there.
“There’s a possibility he could play Tuesday but just let me see what other injuries we have and what other people I need to play and things like that.
“Marlon is back in the fold as well so there is no need to rush players if they are not ready yet.”