press - Morecambe away

Mike Flynn says he is prepared for what he expects to be a difficult away fixture when he takes the side to Morecambe on Saturday.

The Exiles travel to Lancashire to take on a side currently occupying 20th place in the table, a position they kept after their 2-2 draw with Yeovil Town on Tuesday.

It was their first point in four league outings, but Flynn has encouraged his players to forget about their recent results and expect a testing challenge at the Globe Arena.

“They are a tough team,” he said.  

“Like I’ve said before, there are no easy games in League 2 this season. As much as people say the big clubs like Portsmouth have gone, we’ve got Coventry and teams like that now so no game is easy, every game is going to be a tough one.

“If we’re not up for the battle and earn the right to play then it’s going to be a tough afternoon.

“Jim Bentley has done a fantastic job there, he’s been there quite a while now and always builds a competitive squad.

“They always seem to tail off at the end of the season and I don’t know what that’s down to but they are always a tough team to beat and on their day they can beat anybody.

“We have to make sure that we don’t let them get into their stride and we’re on the front foot from the first minute.”

Bentley is currently the second longest serving manager in League 2, only behind Exeter’s Paul Tisdale.

And Flynn says he has a lot of admiration for the job that Bentley has done on a consistent basis with the club.

“I’ve got a lot of time for Jim,” he added.

“He’s a nice guy off the field as-well, very honest, as is his number two Ken McKenna who I have known for a long time now from when I was at Barry Town and he was at TNS.

“I’m friends with Kevin Ellison and they’ve got an honest core there and they are a team that don’t take losing very lightly.

“They are a team of winners so it’s going to be a tough place to go but the other 22 teams have to go there as-well so we just hope that we get the right result on Saturday.”

Flynn also acknowledged the danger posed by veteran Kevin Ellison. The 38-year old is currently in his 7th season with the Shrimps and has scored over 60 goals for the club, including two already this campaign.

And Flynn expects the winger to pose questions to the Exiles defence this weekend.  

“I’ve got a lot of time for Kevin, he’s a great lad,” he continued.

“He’s still scoring goals at 38, looks after himself but he wants to win and he doesn’t care how he does it.

“We just have to be bigger because he’s very good at what he does. He’s a good player, he’s not just there to make up the numbers.

“He will be a pain, he will be a handful and he’s a good finisher so he will be one to watch this week-end.”

The game in the North-East comes off the back of the Exiles picking up four points in the space of four days, in the process moving up to 6th place in the table even at this early stage.

And Flynn was pleased with the two home performances in such a short space of time.

He affirmed: “We took four points from six in two home games against two very good League 2 teams.

“I know Cheltenham are currently down towards the bottom but they’ve got some good players and they’ve been more than a match for a lot of teams this season, especially Exeter City when they scored three goals against them.

“So to keep a clean sheet, which is two in a row now, means we’re going in the right direction.”

The 0-0 draw with Wycombe and the 1-0 victory over Cheltenham Town saw County remain unbeaten at home this season.

And Flynn says he wants to continue that streak and make Rodney Parade a fortress to opposition teams for the rest of the season.

He said: “I think the record under myself, Wayne and Lennie is that we’ve only lost one in the nine games we’ve taken charge of at Rodney Parade, we’ve won six of those as-well and that’s not a bad statistic to be honest.

“We’ve said that we want to make it a tough place to go and I think we are doing that. Like I said, we could have lost in the end on Saturday, probably should have won too and we could have drawn Tuesday so we’re showing the right ingredients that we need to.  

“We haven’t quite been at our best but we’ve got the results and that’s all I can ask for from the players. You can’t play well every game and I thought it was solid on both occasions last week.”

Some positive team-news for the Morecambe game sees strike-duo Lamar Reynolds and Shawn McCoulsky available for selection.  

Reynolds was an unused substitute on Tuesday, with McCoulsky not featuring since the Carabao Cup exit to Leeds United last month.

But Flynn expects them to be back for selection this time around, providing more options in attack alongside Frank Nouble and Padraig Amond.

“I’m almost certain that Lamar and Shawn will be back, unless they have anything go wrong today,” he confirmed.

“I know Lamar was on the bench Tuesday but I just thought that with Frank’s presence up there that it was right to give Lamar a bit more time to recover.

“Fair play to Frank as-well because he was also carrying a niggle, he’s played the game with what I’d call a ‘half-an-injury’ and he’s still put in a good shift and caused them problems.

“That’s the kind of team ethics that we’ve got here now because people really want to be out on that pitch and it’s pleasing for me to see.”

It appears, however, that the game may come too early for captain Joss Labadie and Mark O’Brien.

Labadie was withdrawn just before half-time against Wycombe with a groin strain, while O’Brien has been missing with a foot complaint.

And Flynn is not too optimistic of a return for either this weekend.

“I’ll make a late decision on one of them Friday,” he added.

“But it’s not looking great at the moment if I’m honest. It is what it is and we managed to get the win Tuesday without the both of them.

“Obviously, Joss went off first-half on Saturday against Wycombe and I did feel like we missed him there because I think he’s been exceptional this season.

“He’s played a lot of minutes this season so it’s an unfortunate one but hopefully he won’t be missing for too long.

“We’ve got a good squad of players and somebody has got to step in now and try to keep the shirt and fill his boots.”