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PRESS | Mike Flynn prepared for tough double-header at Rodney Parade

7 September 2017

Mike Flynn says he is looking to make the most of two consecutive home games, as Wycombe Wanderers and Cheltenham Town prepare to come to Rodney Parade in the next week.

It is the first time since March that the Exiles have had two home games in the space of four days, when Blackpool and Luton Town were the visitors.

And Flynn has urged his players to get a better points return than the solitary one picked up six months ago, as Blackpool won 3-1, before a 1-1 draw with the Hatters.

“We have to make the most of it,” he said.

“We need to get some more points on the board and stay near the top of the table for as long as we can. That’s what I’ve been telling the players, take one game at a time and ultimately get the three points as often as possible.”

In fact, Flynn has challenged his players to make Rodney Parade a fortress that intimidates opposition teams.

He added: “You’ll never get any excuses from me, I’ll always be straight with everybody, I want to put on performances and a string of results that makes the fans proud.

“The result against Chesterfield in the first home game was a step in the right direction to doing that, the boys showed their fighting spirit and their class.

“That’s what I want to do, I want to keep doing that for myself, the players, but mostly the fans because if we want it to be intimidating then we need as many people in the stadium as possible.

“It’s great when the stadium is full. The fans are loud, antagonising for the opposition, supportive of the players and they’re fully behind the team. It’s brilliant and long may it continue.”

First up at Rodney Parade will be a Wycombe Wanderers side who currently occupy 4th place in the table.

Flynn himself has fond memories of encounters with the Chairboys, having scored the winner for County on Boxing Day 2013 with a lobbed effort at Adams Park, and he expects a similar tough test this time around.

“Wycombe will be a different test than Exeter,” he continued.

“I think they will be more direct, but they are a good, solid League 2 team.

“Gareth Ainsworth has been there a while now, he’s had a chance to build a team and he’s done a great job. Listen, we all know the threat that Akinfenwa is but they’ve got other good players too, and we’ll have to be on point to get something out of the game or otherwise we may struggle.”

Flynn has come up against Akinfenwa before during his playing days, and while he says the team will have to be focused on the threat he possesses, he has also urged the side to not forget about the remaining players on the pitch.

He said: “I’ve played against him myself and you’ve just got to use your common sense and don’t get into a wrestle with him because there will only ever be one winner.

“We’ve got to try to stop the sources to him, we don’t want him having ammunition throughout the game.

“We need to stop it at source and if that doesn’t happen then we need to make sure we defend properly and play our own game.

He added: “He’s a great lad. He’s fantastic, gets hold of the ball, brings players into play and he’s a real handful.

“He’s so likeable because of his size but he is also a really nice character. Whoever has played with or against him will know he’s a nice guy and that goes a long way in football.

“But we’ve got a job to do and we’ll make sure he’s looked after and we defend properly.”

It will then be the turn of Cheltenham Town to visit Rodney Parade in mid-week, and Flynn is expecting a similar test from the Robins.

“There’s no such thing as an easy game in League 2,” he affirmed.

“Cheltenham Town will be hard to beat, they played Exeter the week before us and lost 4-3. They scored some very good goals, have got some good players, have an experienced manager as-well.

“They set out right, are hard to break down at times because they work really hard. They have good players through the spine of the team, brought the boy in from non-league, Mo Eisa, who will be a threat.

 “They will be a tough team and you’ll see that, they almost got dragged into the relegation battle last season but battled their way away from it and I think they are a better team than back then.

“It’s close to being a derby what with the location so they’ll be up for it and I’ll give them a lot of thought from 17:10 on Saturday, before that my focus is solely on Wycombe.”

The two games will represent an opportunity for the Exiles to bounce back from a first league defeat of the season last time out at Exeter, with Flynn insisting that the players are ready for more tough tests.

He said: “We want to win every game we’re involved in but it won’t happen all the time and we know that.

“I hate to say it but if we were going to lose at Exeter, then we lost in the right way. That is an important thing because we were very unlucky, the effort was amazing and we just need to take that into Saturday.

“It’s done and dusted now, we’ve looked over it, we’ve looked at things to improve upon and we’re ready for Saturday now. One thing this team has always done is bounce back from a defeat.”

The defeat came after an emphatic opening month to the season, and while Flynn had praise for the whole squad, defender Ben White and striker Frank Nouble did come in for individual praise.  

“Ben White has been outstanding since he’s been here,” he commented.

“For someone so young, who's not played league football before, he’s got a bright future.

“He’s a massive talent and he’s highly thought of at Brighton. He’s loving his time here, he’s growing as a man and I’ll be proud to say that we helped him on his way when you see him in the Premier League week in, week out.”

Flynn added: “On his day, Frank can win a game on his own. I just hope that he has more of those days than he’s had previously in his career.

“He’s a great lad, fits in well with the boys and works his socks off for the team.

“He’s getting rewards for his efforts now, but I don’t care if Frank or Joe Day scores, as long as we win the game then that’s all I’m interested in.”

Some early team-news for the double header at Rodney Parade sees the return of striker Joe Quigley.

Quigley missed the Exeter game after being called up to represent Ireland U21’s, who beat Azerbaijan 3-1 in mid-week, but the striker is now back at the club and available for selection.

However, there is some negative news concerning the front-line, with Shawn McCoulsky, Lamar Reynolds and Marlon Jackson all expected to at least miss the Wycombe game.

Jackson has been absent for the Exiles since picking up a hamstring injury in pre-season, and Flynn confirmed he still faces an extended spell on the side-lines.

“Marlon is out for a few weeks,” he said.

“We want to do it right, a hamstring is a really awkward one because you have to really make sure that it’s ready to go or otherwise they are not confident in themselves, they play within themselves and that’s no good to anybody.”

McCoulsky and Reynolds have both been missing since starting in the 5-1 Carabao Cup exit to Leeds United at Elland Road.

And Flynn doesn’t expect either to be ready for the Wycombe game.

“It’s probably going to be too early for Shawn and I’m hoping Lamar comes through,” he added.

“Shawn’s had a hip flexor problem and Lamar’s more the top of his thigh. They’re minor niggles so it’s nothing to be too concerned about.” 

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