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PRESS | Mike Flynn previews the home tie with Notts County

16 February 2018

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Mike Flynn has confirmed that his Newport County AFC side are eager to bounce back from the midweek defeat to Mansfield Town when Notts County head to Rodney Parade on the weekend.

The Magpies travel to South Wales on a similar run of form to the Exiles, also suffering defeat in the fourth-round replay of the Emirates FA Cup to Premier League opposition, although did secure a victory at home to Carlisle on Tuesday.

And Flynn is expecting another difficult test on Saturday against the promotion chasers.

“They are a good team,” he affirmed.

“They have been up there or thereabouts all season and it’s going to be a tough game.

“All these games until the end of the season will be tough because you’ll find that nine out of ten of them will be fighting for something. 

“Whether that be to stay in the league or go up, it’s pretty similar because the shoe was on the other foot last season.

“We were fighting to stay up and we upset a lot of teams. There will be a lot of twists and turns and I’m just hoping that we get some consistency together and we’ll see where it takes us.”

Everyone concerned with the Exiles will have fond memories of the last time that the Magpies visited Rodney Parade, as Mark O’Brien’s dramatic 89th minute winner preserved County’s spot in the Football League.

But if anything, Flynn doesn’t want the game this time around to be similar to last May, owing to the fact that the previous game was too tense to enjoy.  

“I don’t want anything like last season, it was too nerve-wracking,” he stated.

“I just want us to get back to the good things that we have been doing all season and I’m sure that will hold us in good stead.

“Let’s be honest, we’ve done pretty well this season.”

A victory for the Exiles would halt a run of six without a win in all competitions, the last victory being a 2-1 success against fellow play-off contenders Crawley Town on 19th January at Rodney Parade.

But Flynn is not worried at all by that slight dip in form, owing to the fact that four of those games have come on the road and two of them have been against Tottenham Hotspur.  

“It’s no concern whatsoever,” he continued.  

“If we win tomorrow then we would already have more points than we did in the whole of last season, and we’ve already got more points than the season before.

“I’m not worried one bit – we are where we are, and we’ve overachieved at the moment.

“Still in the top half of the table so I’m not worried at all.”

That winless run has seen the Exiles fall seven points off the pace in the hunt for a League 2 play-off spot.

But Flynn is not giving up on securing a top-seven position before the end of the season, with the fact that nine of the remaining fourteen fixtures come at Rodney Parade providing some optimism for the Exiles.

“Of course we are [still in the race,]” he admitted.  

“We’ve lost heavily but only lost ground [on the play-offs] by one point.

“I’m not delusional, but we do need to get back to winning ways.

“To be honest, I’m not really thinking about the play-offs or anything else, I’m just concentrating on getting back to basics and getting back to winning ways.”

The Exiles will also be looking to bounce back against the Nottinghamshire outfit following the 5-0 defeat to Mansfield Town on Tuesday.

And Flynn says he has now had time to get over the heaviest defeat for the Exiles this season.

“Yeah I’m fine,” he confirmed.  

“We had them in the day later [Wednesday] and had a good meeting. It was positive and there’s no point going in and carrying on the negativity from the night before.

“We know it wasn’t good enough and we’ll look to address things which need addressing. But I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t see it coming.

“Just in the manner of it, especially going away from home against a good team, keep it tight and you’re 2-0 down after nine minutes.

“It was frustrating, but we have to move on and I’m expecting a positive performance tomorrow.”

The team meeting on Wednesday allowed the Exiles to watch some of the crucial moments from the encounter at the One Call Stadium and set out a plan to rectify them in future matches.

But Flynn confirmed that he didn’t make the team sit and watch the whole game, preferring to focus on key aspects from the match in Nottinghamshire.

He added: “Not the full game – we used the clips, had things cut what I wanted to get cut and we talked through those points.

“I’m just interested in getting the boys right. Like I said, we had a positive meeting on Wednesday and it wasn’t all negative.

“They are an honest group and I’ve said this over and over, the players know when they haven’t done themselves justice.

“They know it, they don’t need telling all the time, but I did think that there were a few things we could point out and rectify ahead of Saturday.”

That defeat to Mansfield may tempt Flynn into making changes to his starting side in preparation for the weekend.

And Flynn admitted that he is always looking into ways that the squad could possibly be tinkered with, as sometimes changes are required to suit a specific opponent.

“I’ve always got a license to make changes,” he affirmed.  

“I don’t mind making changes when I need to, even if we win, but the boys who I put in have got to be up to a level in training and better than the ones who are on the pitch at the moment.

“If they are not, then why would I put them in?”

But Flynn did go on record to say that he would not overreact to the defeat in the week, affording the squad an opportunity to put things right in training ahead of the game.

“I’ll have to have a look how they all are now,” he said.

“You’ll see the team when it is announced and if I feel that a couple have pushed on and deserve a shot then I’ll put them in.

“It’s one of them where you could overreact and drop five or six, but if I’m brutally honest, there aren’t five or six up to the same level as the ones who have been playing at the minute.

“And that’s on the training ground. I’m not going to put them in if they are not doing it day in day out, because you don’t know what you are going to get.

“But there is scope for changes yes.”

Flynn will definitely have to make at least one change following the news that Scot Bennett is set for a lengthy spell on the side-lines.

The defender was forced off after 58 minutes on Tuesday with a suspected hamstring injury and Flynn is not expecting a return for Bennett in the immediate future.

He confirmed: “Scot is having a scan today and while I don’t want to put anything on it, I’d say between four and eight weeks.

“I don’t know but it seemed pretty bad when he did it after the game. Hamstring was sore Wednesday still so he’s the only one.”

Striker Paul Hayes missed the game during midweek in its entirety through a sore groin problem.

But Flynn was able to provide more positive news when questioned as to the availability of the forward.   

He continued: “He will train today but whether he is involved tomorrow, it may be too soon.

“It was only a little tweak, but one that we couldn’t risk.

“Other than that, I’ve seen them all this morning and they all seem alright.

“But then again, the last time I said that Brighton gave me a call and said Ben was fit.

“As of this moment before training, everyone else is fine.”

Those injury concerns could afford some playing time to the players who maybe haven’t featured as much of late.

But Flynn confirmed that Swansea loanee Tyler Reid is not yet ready to fulfil a full game.

He commented: “I think it would be fair to say that Tyler is not ready to go for 90 minutes.

“I think that’s fair to say and I’ve had a chat with him. He’s a great kid, but he’s too big for his body at the moment as in muscle wise.

“And he needs to find a way to improve his endurance fitness. He did well for the first 45 minutes at Colchester, as they all did, but he did fade pretty badly.

“It’s something we’ve been working on since that because in training he is fine. You never see any issues like that in training, in the reserve games he’s been fine and when he played against us he was fine.

“It’s a bit of a culture shock coming from the academy to League 2. It is a big difference in tempo and the amount of time you get to recover is not enough.” 

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