Mike Flynn believes his Newport County AFC players are ready to right the wrongs from the League Two opening day and secure their first victory of the season against Crewe Alexandra.
Otis Khan’s double and Tyler Walker’s early opener gave Mansfield Town a 3-0 victory at the One Call Stadium last weekend, but Flynn believes the spirit of his squad will see them ready to go again on Saturday.
He affirmed: “The mood of the players is one of the biggest positives we’ve got. They’re a great group and nothing fazes them.
“It’s not the start you want but Mansfield is a difficult place to go and we did play some really good stuff.
“Apart from the goals that we gave away, there wasn’t much between the teams. We just need to keep believing, cut out the mistakes we made last weekend and we’ll be fine.”
The Exiles will play host to the early League Two pacesetters on Saturday, with the Railwaymen topping the table after the opening fixture following their 6-0 success over Morecambe.
But Flynn is not going to allow himself to get carried away after just one fixture, insisting that nothing will ever be decided at either end of the table within the first match or even the first couple of months.
He added: “If you listen to some people then Crewe are already promoted, we’re relegated, and we might as well pack up with 45 games to go – it’s a done and dusted league.
“They played well on Saturday and Morecambe struggled but they took their chances well and, like I’ve said before, Crewe do start the season well.
“We’ve got to make sure that we cut out the mistakes and take our chances at the weekend.”
Flynn also believes he has seen enough in training so far this week that tells him the squad are mentally ready to bounce back from the opening day defeat.
If they were to secure the victory, it would be County’s first home Football League success against Crewe Alexandra since 1978.
And Flynn is certainly targeting eradicating that statistic when he leads the players out on the weekend.
“I'm always confident,” he admitted.
“I go into every game to try and win it. We lost the first game, it happens – it’s just one of those things.
“I'm sure a few bigger clubs than Newport County AFC lost their first game but that's what comes with how well we did last season - people get carried away.
“I think there needs to be a realism to what we can achieve and also to take the pressure off the players. The players are my biggest concern. I want to make sure they're looked after and in a good frame of mind and they're ready to express themselves on a Saturday.
“We lost a game of football, it'll happen across a season. We lost at Mansfield Town last season and we still finished 11th, I'm not too concerned about that.”
The encounter with the Railwaymen will be the opening competitive fixture at Rodney Parade this season.
Last year’s ‘Homecoming’ match certainly went to plan as the Exiles saw off Chesterfield 4-1 on 26th August 2017, Padraig Amond marking his debut with a goal alongside a hat-trick for Frank Nouble.
And Flynn says he can’t wait to return home so that the squad – and more specifically the summer additions - can have their first taste of the atmosphere created by the loyal home support.
“I'm really looking forward to playing in front of our fans,” he confirmed.
“They're a passionate group. The majority of them have been excellent throughout - not just my time here but since I've known the football club.
“There's a good, solid, hard group of fans. They bleed the Black and Amber. It's what a football club like Newport County AFC needs. They need those loyal fans to keep the players and the club going.”
In terms of early team-news for the encounter with the Railwaymen, Flynn revealed that it has been a difficult week for his players.
Mark O’Brien and Robbie Willmott were the two absentees at Mansfield Town last weekend, but Flynn has now admitted that they may be joined on the side-lines by a couple of others as-well.
“We’ve had a tough week,” he acknowledged.
“There’s five who haven’t trained all week. I’m not going to tell you who they are but yes, [Mark and Robbie] are in the five I’m concerned about.
“It’s not ideal but I’m hoping a couple of them come through, otherwise we’re going to be a bit short. I have to admit, I’m worried about one or two making Saturday.
“I could bring in academy players but they’re away for 12 days in Holland, which doesn’t help, so we might go with one or two short on the bench in the worst-case scenario.
“Yes, possibly there will be a few changes [from last weekend.] Like I said, we're looking to bounce back and get a positive result against Crewe on Saturday.”
At this week’s press conference, Flynn was also able to provide an update on Momodou Touray, who has recently started playing games whilst on his season-long loan to Barry Town United.
The 19-year old has made a blistering start to proceedings and after featuring against Cardiff Met, scored a hat-trick against Evo-Stik Southern League side Redditch United.
The Welsh Premier League outfit start their league campaign on the weekend but face a daunting trip to The New Saints, who have won the league for the last seven years.
Ahead of that curtain-raiser, Flynn commented: “Momodou is still training with us but not on Thursday because that's the evening he trains with Barry Town.
“He's already enjoying playing regular games. He scored a hat-trick on the weekend which is good for him. Its good development for him to get used to the men's environment and still train with us.”
Barry Town United are a club Flynn knows well having starred for them in the early 2000s, and he has followed their progression with intent since regaining their status in the Welsh top flight.
And it is those reasons that make Flynn believe he has sent Momodou into the perfect environment to continue his progression.
“Barry Town United are a very good club,” he affirmed.
“I know the coaches in Gavin Chesterfield and Richie Williams really well, so I know they'll look after Momodou, I know they'll help him improve by giving him regular game time.
“Straight away they'll report back to me about how he's done and what they can work on with him. They're two people I have a lot of time for. It wasn't just a case of Momodou going to Barry Town and that's the end of it. I thought it was best for his education.
“I obviously have an affection for Barry Town United having played there but Gavin Chesterfield and Richie Williams were a big part of why I let Momodou go there.
“They do things right and they'll try and improve Momodou in the best way they can - the rest then is down to him. He needs to be playing well. He needs to be working hard to stay in the team. I'm confident he'll get looked after down there.”