Mike Flynn has urged his Newport County AFC players to ‘put on a show’ for the travelling supporters who make the long trip up to Sincil Bank on Saturday as the Exiles face Lincoln City.
For the second successive season, County will play their last game before Christmas against the Imps, although this year it’s away and the Lincolnshire outfit are sitting top of the League Two table.
Since the reformation of Newport County AFC in 1989, the Exiles have visited Sincil Bank on three occasions, losing twice and winning in the other match.
Having played in just one of those prior contests for County, there was no surprise which match resonated best in Flynn’s mind ahead of another trip to Lincolnshire.
He affirmed: “I always remember it as the place where we went and won 4-2 and Robbie Willmott scored twice on his debut. I was playing on that day but like I’ve said many times before, what has happened in the past doesn’t matter.
“It’s all about what we do going forward and I’m hopeful that we can go there and put on a show. They are one of the biggest clubs in this league, big fanbase, good young manager and the finances to build a good squad.
“That’s why they are top of the league.”
The Imps have been in imperious form all season and leapfrogged MK Dons to the top of the table last weekend with a comfortable victory over Morecambe.
In fact, Lincoln City have resided in either 1st or 2nd place in the League Two table ever since the second match of the season, and they are guaranteed to occupy one of those places on Christmas Day regardless of the result against County.
Flynn added: “We have to worry about ourselves because if we go and concede after 63 seconds, it’s going to be a really tough ask. It’s going to be tough anyway, we’ve got to concentrate, not make any errors, and make sure we’re on it from the start.
“Everyone knows Sincil Bank is a tough place to go but it’s not like going to Liverpool or somewhere where we would be petrified.
“We need to go there with confidence, concentrate on ourselves and hopefully we’ll be coming home with three points.”
County make the trip to Sincil Bank on the back of a much-needed break before the festive period, with last weekend’s contest against MK Dons falling victim to the weather conditions in South Wales.
Flynn stated: “It was frustrating, but nothing could have been done. Everything was handled excellently by the officials and it’s just one of those things.
“We just had to get on with it. The positive is it gave us a chance to rest a few who probably needed those extra few days and get a few back as well.
“We made the boys do a little bit of running after the game was postponed just so they felt like they did something.
“It was a welcome break in the end and that’s the positive that I’m taking out of it.”
Another positive from the postponement is that centre-back Mickey Demetriou will have the opportunity to keep a remarkable appearance record going for the Exiles.
The 28-year old has featured in County’s last 75 League Two matches, last missing out on a place in the matchday squad against Luton Town in March 2017.
His name was left off the team sheet against MK Dons last weekend after he suffered a fractured cheekbone in the victory over Wrexham AFC, but Flynn confirmed he is back in contention this time around.
“Mickey is fine, fit, all okay with him,” he affirmed.
“As we speak now, there’s a question mark over one player but it is the best we’ve looked for five or weeks six weeks. The physio has been busy this week, but he’s done well in getting everyone back and hopefully it stays like that.
“Are they all 100% match fit and ready to go? No, but going into the festive period it’s good we’ve got the numbers that if we do need to mix things up, we can.
“We just have to keep trying to dig in and I’m sure we’ll go on a run soon. We’ve got everyone coming back now and they’ve worked hard to get back there with the rehab and things like that.”
Another player who may have profited from the week’s rest is Joss Labadie.
The midfielder has featured from the bench in the last three County matches, accumulating 67 minutes thus far, as he continues to recover from his ACL injury that had seen him side-lined for nearly nine months.
A week’s extra recovery should mean Labadie is ready to fulfil more minutes of action – but Flynn again warned that a recovery from such a serious injury needs to be built up gradually over time.
He stated: “Joss is looking really good – he trained really well again yesterday – we did a bit of 11v11 and he looked good.
“He’s getting back to his old self which is pleasing. I don’t know if he’s ready to start yet because if he does start then I don’t think he’d finish the full 90.
“It’s about working out what is the best for the team.”