Mike Flynn says Newport County AFC have to be mentally resilient if they are to maintain their high League Two position – as the Exiles embark on what he calls ‘a tough set of eight fixtures.’
First up in that run is an away trip to Swindon Town this afternoon to face a Robins side still settling back down after a recent change in management.
Richie Wellens has come in to replace Phil Brown and the 38-year old has won two of his first three League Two fixtures as Swindon boss.
County travel to Wiltshire for just the third time since reformation in 1989 and both clubs have won one game apiece at the County Ground since then – with County’s win coming in the league last season thanks to a bullet Ben Tozer header.
“Swindon are a big club,” Flynn affirmed.
“They’ll want to be higher in the league, brought Richie Wellens in to try and do it and he’s a person I know from my playing days.
“Richie is a typical Mancunian – fiery, and he was a very good footballer.
“He’ll be determined to stamp his mark and start the new role well. We’ll be going there for the three points and I hope he does alright after we beat them.”
County could ascend back into the League Two automatic promotion spots should they secure a positive result of any kind and better the results of Bury FC and Colchester United.
Flynn added: “It’s been a really good start. The boys deserve a lot of credit but it means absolutely nothing and I’ve said that all along.
“It doesn’t mean anything until you get into the business end of the season but what it can do is make sure you stay in the business end for a long period.
“Listen, we have a tough set of eight games now and we’ve got to be on our game to win any of them.
“You look at the fixtures after Swindon, we’ve got MK Dons, Lincoln, Forest Green, Port Vale and I’ve probably missed one as well. They are all tough games and we’ve got no divine right just to turn up and get three points.
“We need to go out determined to get three points in every game and hopefully we do that. All the hard work the players put in, they deserve something special at the end of the season.”
The Exiles come into the contest having been knocked out of the CheckaTrade Trophy in midweek after a penalty shootout defeat to Cheltenham Town in the Second Round of the competition.
Reflecting on the game, Flynn continued: “Yeah it was important [to get minutes into some players.]
“And it was a really good performance. We changed it round, we gave some players minutes who needed game time and we should have won the game in 90 minutes.
“Penalties are a lottery and I was obviously disappointed to go out. But I was really pleased with the performance.”
Flynn made seven changes to his starting side for the trip to the Jonny-Rocks Stadium to give certain players some much need minutes.
And he says some of them may have put themselves into contention for today’s trip to Wiltshire.
“Yeah they have,” he said.
“It’s something I need to look at. What it does do as well with a few coming back, it might allow me to change formations.
“Now we want to be able to change things when needed. It’s nothing against the young lads but I’ve had three young lads on the bench. Then a goalkeeper on the bench as well so really if you look at it, you’ve only got three substitutes to put on.
“And sometimes we’ve only had six on the bench so then it’s only two who are really going to make a difference in the game.
“It’ll be good to have a strong bench this weekend.”
One of the players to return at Cheltenham, not immediately from the off, was Joss Labadie who ended his nightmare nine-month injury layoff with a 20-minute cameo.
Flynn affirmed: “Of course it is [a landmark for Joss.] He’s ticked another box and he’ll be involved again today.
“It’s now about being sensible and realistic with him because after the adrenaline wears off, I don’t think he’ll last more than half hour anyway.
“It’s a tough one – you need to build it back up and to be fair, he’s worked his socks off and I’m looking forward to having him fully fit.”
On further team-news moving forward: “It’s been a positive week on the injury front, so I’m pleased with that.
“Keanu Marsh-Brown is a lot closer now. He needs to get his season up and running because it’s been a very frustrating one for him.”
Since County’s draw away to Wrexham AFC in the Second Round of the Emirates FA Cup, the Exiles have found out they will play former Premier League champions Leicester City should they overcome the Dragons on Tuesday night.
The Third Round tie, regardless of which Welsh club gets through, will also be shown on BBC One on Sunday 6th January from 4:30pm. More information here.
But Flynn says he and his side can’t afford to think about any potential tie with the Foxes – who reached the Quarter Finals of the Champions League in 2017 – as it will distract from league action on Saturday and the replay itself.
He stated: “Not even thinking about it – means absolutely nothing because first of all we’ve got Swindon. 5pm Saturday I’ll start thinking about Wrexham AFC and then if we win, 10pm Tuesday night I’ll start thinking about Leicester.
“It’s not even entered my head because I know how football can kick you in the teeth and take things away from you when you get complacent and take your eye off the ball. That won’t be happening.
“I don’t even think it has entered the boys’ heads either.”