Mike Flynn has admitted that he wants his Newport County AFC side to be in the League 2 play-off positions by the time Tottenham visit Rodney Parade later this month, starting by attempting to get all three points at Grimsby Town on Saturday.
The tie with the Mariners is the first of three games that County have to make up the four points on Mansfield before that Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round tie, who sit in the final play-off position, and Flynn wants his side to continue building on the 100% record obtained so far in 2018.
“Just got to keep going and keep plodding away,” he affirmed.
“And by the time we play Tottenham in the FA Cup, let’s see if we can set ourselves a challenge and see if we can be in the play-off spots by then.
“Momentum goes a long, long way in football and we definitely have that at the moment.”
The Mariners have hit somewhat of a dip in form of late and are one of only two League 2 sides to have not registered a victory in any of their last six league outings.
But Flynn says he will be not be drawn into a false sense of security at Blundell Park and expects the game to be just as difficult as any other fixture in the League 2 calendar.
“What goes on at Grimsby doesn’t affect me or concern me in any way,” he stated.
“It’s a tough place to go, they have some very good players and it was a very tough game down here.
“Russell as a manager has been there, seen it, done it so I’m sure he’s been in worse situations than this and pulled through.
“I’m hoping that they do it after Saturday, but I’ll be going there looking to get another three points.”
The game comes on the back of the stunning 2-1 victory over Championship side Leeds United on Sunday in the Emirates FA Cup Third Round.
But Flynn has challenged his team to quickly readjust to league action, as he seeks to finish the league campaign in as strong a position as possible.
“It is one of the furthest trips, but the league is our bread and butter,” he said.
“We’ve got to be professional, got to keep concentrating and I’m sure they will because I’ve got a great group here as I keep saying.
“It’s an exciting time to be involved with Newport and long may it continue. I can’t remember the last time it was this exciting at the football club if I’m honest.”
The long trip to Lincolnshire will represent a stark contrast from that cup tie with Leeds.
And Flynn is expecting his players to adjust quickly in Lincolnshire ready for the game.
He commented: “I was going to say that it would be colder, but I was absolutely freezing on Sunday, so I think that will be quite similar.
“It’s League 2, it’s a tough, tough game. If we’re not up to it then we’ll get beaten.
“It’s as simple as that – I’m not getting carried away with anything because we need to be on our metal every game, game in game out.
“If any of them decide that they don’t fancy it because of what happened last week, then they won’t be in the team.
“Having said that, I don’t think I’ll get that because the boys have been superb.”
And Flynn also confirmed that the glamour tie with Tottenham Hotspur at the end of the month has made his team talks for the next two weeks a lot easier.
He affirmed: “If they don’t keep up to their good standards, then they risk losing their shirts for the Tottenham game.”
“That’s the team talk done really.”
Some early team-news for that tie sees Marlon Jackson and Calaum Jahraldo both expected to miss the trip with their respective injuries.
And Flynn confirmed that every player came through the Leeds game last weekend unscathed.
“I think so,” he added.
“Yeah they did thinking back, it was the last thing on my mind if I’m totally honest.
“I got a little bit excited afterwards and I was just buzzing for the whole city really, not just the people who were there.
“The amount of messages and the amount of media attention it has created, it could help us grab a generation of fans back.”
That game with the Whites last weekend afforded County fans the first chance of seeing Paul Hayes in action for the Exiles.
The striker finally had his transfer certificate completed last week after originally putting pen to paper in October, and Flynn was pleased to see the 34-year old make his debut for the club.
He continued: “He’s already shown around the training ground that he can bring experience, good football knowledge and good life knowledge that will help the youngsters.
“He’s a bit of a character as-well so he wasn’t too happy with the Spurs draw. He said Tuesday that he had already scored two against them, ticked that one off, and he wanted someone else.”
Hayes almost scored within a minute of coming on, only to see the volleyed attempt drift narrowly wide of the far post from 35 yards.
That set for the stage for Shawn McCoulsky to score his 11th goal of the campaign, arguably the most important so far, to extend his lead as County’s top scorer for the campaign.
And Flynn says McCoulsky is pushing for a spot in his starting side this weekend.
“Shawn is always knocking on the door,” he confirmed.
“I’ve said it all season really that he’s been knocking on the door but Padraig Amond has been putting in some good performances, he’s been exceptional really.”
Saturday’s game could also see the remaining January additions get their first minutes in League 2.
Aaron Collins, Josh Sheehan and Tyler Reid will all go straight into contention for the game, and Flynn hinted this morning at how much time these players could be expected to get on Saturday.
He said: “I’m hoping that I can give them game time because it’ll mean that we’re winning comfortably, and I can give them much needed minutes.
“But I’ll only do it if they deserve it and I think that I need to. There’s people who are in the team now that have been working very hard and done well to keep their shirt.
“It’s the competition that I want because now they know that people will take their shirt off them and they won’t know when they will get it back.”
Those four additions have bolstered the County squad and Flynn says he is pleased to add that little bit of quality needed to improve his squad even further.
“It’s a lot stronger,” he said.
“Everybody can feel it around the place now. You only have to look at the players being left out, the players on the bench, we can change things.
“I’m still looking for a couple more but we did do some good business last week because it was very low cost considering the quality that we brought in.”
Flynn also confirmed that Sean Rigg has suffered a setback in his bid to return to full fitness.
“He came back, trained one day and got injured again that day,” he continued.
“He’s done his hip flexor, the left one first of all. He came back after 10 – 14 days, trained and felt the other one.
“I’ve seen him this morning and asked him how he was, and I’d probably say another week.
“I’ll say it now, he’s not not playing because of any contract dispute. He needs another seven or eight games before he hits that anyway so that’s got nothing to do with it, I just don’t know at the moment what Sean Rigg I am going to get.
“And the quality of the squad has improved so Sean has to get himself fit first of all; and then work his way back into the team and that’s as simple as it is really.”
That cup tie with Spurs later this month could provide another injection of money to the club.
There will also be a sell-on benefit from Lee Evans’ move to Sheffield United on Wednesday, in addition to any money already made in the Emirates FA Cup so far this campaign.
But Flynn has again warned that he wants the money to be spent in the correct manner.
“The money is adding up but it has to be used in the right way,” he stated.
“Like I’ve said, I’m not going to be knocking on the door and thinking that I want to blow any money on x,y and z.
“I’ve always said that I want to put foundations in place that will make this club more attractable for years to come, not just the next year or two.
“I keep banging on about the training ground, but we’ve got loads of facilities round here. I’m saying a training ground but it would just be nice to have an extra pitch of good quality.
“We’ve got the velodrome here for recovery sessions, the pool for recovery sessions, we’re using Dragon Park at the moment because of the fire situation.
“We’ve got all these facilities around us, the 3G if it’s frozen, it’s on our doorstep but it would be nice to have a better base and a nicer pitch if I’m totally honest.”