Flynn press Notts County

Mike Flynn says the Exiles are prepared for what he feels will be one of the toughest away fixtures of the season when the side go to Notts County on Saturday.

The Magpies are the only side left in League 2 with an unbeaten home record, winning five of the seven games played so far at Meadow Lane this campaign.

And becoming the first team to win at the stadium is something Flynn has his sights set firmly on this weekend.

He affirmed: “I didn’t know that if I’m honest but if that’s true then it’s there for the taking.

“Let’s be the first team to be beat them there in the league. They are a strong team and it’s going to be a tough game. But they’ve had a little dip in form now so hopefully we catch them at the right time.

“It’s all about what Newport team turns up on the day and what Notts County team turns up as it is in most games in this league.

“I’m confident we can go there and cause them problems, I just hope we have that killer touch and we go there and get the win because the boys have been magnificent.”

Flynn will come up against Kevin Nolan in the dugout on Saturday, somebody who he says has the right motivation for the club.

“They’ve got an ambitious young manager in Kevin Nolan,” he commented.

“He’s played at the highest level, seen what has worked in the league. They’ve obviously got some backing as-well, so he’s been able to build a strong squad and I’m sure they will be up there come the end of the season.

“If you can put together a competitive squad and be consistent in this league then you know that you’ll be in the top half of the table for sure.”

The trip to Meadow Lane will be the third time that the Exiles have gone to the stadium in League 2, having scored three goals on both prior visits.

And Flynn says he is looking forward to taking the side to one of the traditional stadiums of English football.

“It’s a great football stadium,” he said.

“It’s full of tradition and I’m really looking forward to going there.

“They’ve started really well, and I think the way they tried to relegate us last season will mean the boys are up for it.”

The meeting between the two sides will be the first fixture since the infamous game on the final day of last season.

But Flynn has warned his players to not let that become a distraction this time around.

“It’s done now and its part of history,” he stated.  

“They’ve got a few new players, we’ve got a few new players.

“They are at the right end of the table, we’re at the right end of the table as-well so whatever happened last year is done now, it’s part of history and we have to go and write more history like being the first team to beat them at home.

“We’re just concentrating on what’s ahead of us. They’ve rested up this week and we’ll go there full of energy and freshness.”

Talking about things he wants his side to improve upon from the last two games at home, Flynn has challenged his players to keep their high levels of concentration in their own box.

“I think we’ve conceded sloppy goals,” he reiterated.  

“We can be overcritical, but the effort has been there, the amount of chances we create has been there.

“I think we have switched off and been a bit sloppy on the goals we conceded. That’s what’s been missing in the last two games but the way we finished the Mansfield game where we played them off the park was very pleasing.”

Speaking about team-news for the trip to Nottinghamshire, Flynn confirmed he would be missing a few players this weekend.

“Joss Labadie is still out and Calaum Jahraldo is out,” he added.

“That’s it as far as injury concerns at the moment. You can never say never so we’ll have to see what happens in training over the next two days.”

Commenting on having his captain unavailable for such a tough away test, Flynn reiterated that he would not rush any player back ahead of schedule.

“He’s looking a lot better today,” he said.

“He’s got a spring in his step and he’s in good spirits.

“He’s worked hard this week, he feels a lot more comfortable and that’s progression.

“I’m not going to rush him for the sake of two or three days. If it is touch-and-go next week then he won’t play because I’d rather him be ready for the week after than breaking down.”

New forward addition Paul Hayes is also not expected to be ready in time, as Hayes continues to work his way back to full fitness.

“He’s not ready just yet,” he continued.

“I don’t want to rush him but I’m hoping it’s not too far now.

“Fair play to him because he’s been working really hard and getting himself into shape. He’s fitted in really well with the boys and I’m looking forward to it really.”

Robbie Willmott is back in contention for a start, having been available to make the bench against Mansfield Town last weekend.

He admitted: “I was very tempted to put him on against Mansfield if I’m honest. I had one sub left to make but I thought we were having enough joy.

“I just thought that if it did flair up just for the sake of that ten minutes then I would have been gutted.

“He’s fit, he’s rested up and he’s back in contention for this Saturday.”

And Shawn McCoulsky, County’s top scorer currently with seven goals, has also given Flynn a selection headache ahead of the game.

“Yes, he has,” Flynn confirmed.

“It’s what I want, it’s the problems I want – he’s coming on, scoring goals.

“Is he ready to start? We’ll find out Saturday but what I will say is that he’s been more dangerous when he’s come off the bench.”

The Bristol City loanee has scored in each of the last four games in all competitions, three of which have come from starting as a substitute.

And Flynn says it is positive to have such a versatile player in the squad.

He added: “Certain situations suit certain players differently and that’s how it is.

“But what he did show me on Saturday and a couple of times previously is that he can do the things I want him to do and do them consistently to improve as a footballer.

“He’s running the channels, getting hold of the ball and he was a lot more careful with the ball than against Swansea U23s which for me, was more pleasing than him actually nicking the goal if I’m honest.”

Flynn also insisted the striker could come in to the side without replacing Frank Nouble and Padraig Amond, who have usually started up-front in a 3-5-2 system.

“I think he can play in a two or a three,” he affirmed.

“It all depends on what Shawn you get. If you get the one that runs the channels, holds the ball up well then he can definitely play in a three.

“If not, he’s better in a two where there is a decoy for him so to speak. It means he can maybe have a little more space when another striker occupies the defenders.

“These are the thoughts that I’m having at the moment and I’ll make what I think is the best decision for us to win on Saturday.”