Mike Flynn says he is expecting a reaction from his players in the upcoming matches against Grimsby Town and Crawley Town.
The Exiles suffered a second league defeat of the season last weekend, Scot Bennett’s first goal of the season not enough to stop a Kevin Ellison inspired Morecambe side from winning 2-1 at the Globe Arena.
But Flynn has been encouraged by the response from the players in training this week and expects them to continue that in the forthcoming games.
“Tuesday’s training session was probably the best we’ve had,” he affirmed.
“The tenacity, the effort, the quality, was really pleasing to see. To be honest, I knew I was going to get that because I have a good bunch of players who won’t tolerate the standards shown on Saturday and that’s pleasing for me to see.
“I’ve seen exactly what I expected to see because the boys have been outstanding. I’ve seen them get back up to the standard we set previously and perhaps even a bit further.”
Defeat in Lancashire saw the Exiles slip out of the play-off places and down to 9th, in what was County’s first defeat at the Globe Arena in three visits.
And Flynn reiterated his belief that the team fell behind their usual standards in the game.
He said: “The boys have been brilliant on the whole and I’ll always back them.
“I’ll always be on their side but we know as a team, and I include myself and my staff in that, that we weren’t good enough on Saturday.
“We let our standards slip beyond our usual quality and it wasn’t good enough for the football club and it wasn’t good enough for the fans who travelled there.
“I’ve said it before that there are ways in which you win and lose games. There are ways to do things in life and we didn’t do it in the way that I expected from a football team under myself.
“Listen, it’s League 2 – you are going to have off days. Even the Premiership sides have off days, it was just the manner in how we lost because we weren’t at the races all over the pitch.
“I’ve been honest and said it was the worst performance in my 23 games at this football club but I’m looking forward to Saturday so I can see the reaction that the players give us.”
The first opportunity that Flynn will have to see a response from his team will be when Grimsby Town head to Rodney Parade on Saturday.
The Mariners themselves head to South Wales on the same points as the Exiles, sitting in 13th place with the 12 points already accumulated thus far.
And Flynn is expecting another strong test at home.
He continued: “It’s going to be a tough game on Saturday, they have good players, are a strong team, have a manager who is very experienced so it’s going to be a tough challenge.
“We have to be up for a battle against them but most importantly we have to play our own game and stick to our strengths because if we do that then we will create a lot of chances and hopefully score a lot of them as-well.”
The Exiles are currently unbeaten at Rodney Parade, with two wins and a draw thus far this season.
And Flynn wants his team to build on their positive start to the home campaign, and make it intimidating for opponents.
He added: “Everyone is saying about us making Rodney Parade a fortress and the truth is that we’ve lost one in twelve games there under myself.
“That was against Blackpool who are now in League 1 and really we could have got something out of that game looking back on it.
“We’ve got a very good record at Rodney Parade and I just hope that we continue to make it a tough place for opposition players to come and play football.”
The Exiles will then turn their attentions to another tough test on the road on Tuesday, as Flynn prepares to take his side to face Crawley Town, who have ex-County boss Warren Feeney as assistant manager.
And Flynn is looking forward to re-uniting with the Irishman.
“I wish everybody luck who tried to help out the football club,” he said.
“But as much as I say that, I ultimately want to go and get three points against him and it’s always a tough test there.
“Harry Kewell and Warren Feeney are starting to get their team together at the club and Tuesday night away in League 2 means it’s going to be a tough game.”
The Red Devils also have another former County employee on their books, with Mark Randall leaving the Exiles to join the Sussex side over the summer.
And Flynn paid tribute to the 27-year-old, who played a huge part in the ‘Great Escape’ last season.
“We’ve had a couple of texts from Mark since his departure,” he continued.
“Listen, I’ve got a lot of time for Mark Randall, he’s a good footballer and it’s as simple as he wanted to go back closer to home. That’s that, it’s part of football, I got the best out of him at the end of last season and helped him on his way.
“Every player was a big part of what happened last season and it was best for both parties that he got a fresh challenge this season. As long as they give 100% whilst at the football club then I’ll never be awkward and stand in somebody’s way.
“I don’t have a bad word to say about Mark Randall and I wish him luck with his career, just not on Tuesday night.”
Last Tuesday, the Exiles played a behind-closed-doors friendly against Forest Green Rovers at Spytty Park.
The game afforded Flynn an opportunity to give minutes to players who haven’t featured too much lately.
Joe Quigley and Shawn McCoulsky certainly took their opportunities, scoring in the 2-0 victory, whilst Lamar Reynolds set-up both goals.
And Flynn was pleased with the showing from his side.
“The boys showed great attitude, worked hard and got the win,” he said.
“At times we could have conceded a few but there was some very good goalkeeping from James Bittner.
“They applied themselves right, I took a lot of positives from it and it was good to see some players get some minutes under their belt and for me that’s the most important thing.”
The only negative from the friendly was the injury sustained by Reece Cole.
And Flynn didn’t seem too confident that the midfielder would return for the weekend.
“Reece Cole will probably be out,” he added.
“I’ll give him every chance but he played Tuesday and had a little reaction to his knee injury.”
There could, however, be more positive injury news in the form of Joss Labadie and Mark O’Brien.
The pair both sat out the Cheltenham Town and Morecambe games with groin and foot injuries respectively.
And while Flynn didn’t know for sure as to their availability, he is optimistic of a return.
“I’m hoping they will be fit,” he continued.
“I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know 100% because we’ve got two training days left so let’s just say that it’s looking positive at the moment.”
Marlon Jackson remains side-lined for the Exiles in the only other injury news, with Flynn confirming that the performances of late have given him some selection headaches ahead of the upcoming games.
He stated: “I don’t want to pick the same team because I’ve got to as I want to pick the same team because they deserve it. So the Forest Green friendly has forced a few selection headaches and that’s what I want.
“Listen, I’ve moved players around already this season, rotated them when players needed a rest. One thing for sure is that I will be picking a team on Saturday that I think will win a football match.”