Mike Flynn says Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup trip to seventh-tier Met Police will be a test of character for his Newport County AFC squad as they effectively go from being the hunter to the hunted.
At no point in the competition last season were the Exiles ever heavily fancied to win a tie, with County happy to use their underdog tag to go and upset the odds against higher opposition Walsall and Leeds United, before taking Premier League outfit Tottenham Hotspur to a replay.
The tables have turned on County for Saturday’s trip to Imber Court as they do now hold the favourites tag, but Flynn has warned his players against complacency if they want to get through to the next round.
“It’ll be a test of character,” he affirmed.
“I’ll tell you this – anybody who thinks they can just turn up and think we’ll win the game will not be playing.
“There’s not a chance of that happening, we know how easy it is to be upset in the FA Cup on the flip side – we did it last season beating Leeds United and holding Tottenham Hotspur.
“There will be absolutely nothing that I’ll be taking for granted and I’ll make sure the players don’t take it for granted either. To be honest, I don’t think they will. They are a good group and they know what it means to the football club in terms of finances as well.
“It doesn’t matter what team we’re playing against, you have to do the basics right, outwork them, outfight them, be courageous on the football.
“You’ve got to earn the right because Met Police will be up for it. It’ll be a lively start, we’ll be up for it, and it’s something that none of us will take for granted.
“As much as they’ll be up for it, I’m confident we’ll be more up for it than them.”
Newport County AFC have never met the Met Police in a competitive fixture, with the BBC celebrating this occasion by hosting their flagship Saturday football show, Football Focus, from the Surrey venue.
Flynn continued: “I think Football Focus show a lot of respect and I think there’s still a buzz over what we did last season in the FA Cup.
“I think it’s a bit of mutual respect where they want to see how Newport start in the competition and also how the Met Police do when being the lowest ranked team.
“The Met Police get a chance to giant kill, it might sound strange to say Newport County AFC are giants but in the grand scheme of things we are.
“If we get through this, and the second round, then in the third round we’ll have a chance at giant killing if we get a good draw.
“We know the importance of this game. Any extra money that we can bring into the club is a positive.”
He stated: “I will never take the FA Cup lightly.
“It’s a competition I love, have always loved and looking at last season, you can see what it could mean to clubs like ourselves.
“There are clubs all over the country looking to do the same thing and I’ll never jeopardise the club’s financial future over an extra three points in the league because you might not get those points anyway.”
If there’s one person who doesn’t need reminding of the dangers of a potential FA Cup shock it’s Flynn, who suffered one at this stage of the competition whilst in his playing days back on 5th November 2005.
He explained: “I played for Gillingham and we were away to Burscough. We were winning 2-1, I got sent off and then we lost 3-2.
“I was planning to stay up North after the game and I got made to get on the coach – I went all the way back to Gillingham with my head between my legs.
“That has happened to me, but I have also been on the end of some positive results as well, I’m pleased with that.”
Some early team-news for the fixture sees Flynn have this to say on the availability of the loan players within the squad: “Yes we have [received clearance on all loan players] so that’s a positive. If fit, they are all available.”
In further injury news, it seems that the Exiles have mostly eradicated the lengthy injury list that has hampered the squad in recent weeks.
Flynn continued: “Some of the injuries are impact, Andrew Crofts is a very unfortunate case where he had an infection which then caused the inflammation on his achilles. There’s no tear or anything there, it’s not a bad one so he should be back on the grass today which is positive.
“He’s not too far away. There’s no point trying to rush him and try to cut a week off what feels like a long time. If we’ve got to wait another week then so be it.
“Joss Labadie has been working his socks off and is looking in really good condition. But we’ve just got to make sure we time that right.
“Both of them will [feel like new signings.] We will then be able to get back to what I felt was our strongest team and start putting in some solid performances.
“Mark O’Brien and Scot Bennett should be available for Saturday, as is Fraser Franks – unless anything happens today or Friday obviously.”
Saturday’s game comes in the middle of a two-week break from League Two action, with the Exiles heading into the cup weekend sitting in sixth position within the table.
Speaking about the Carlisle defeat, Flynn affirmed: “I’m feeling exactly how I felt after the game.
“It was a bad start and we conceded sloppy goals. But straight after the first 15 minutes, I thought we played some of the best football that I’ve seen at Newport County AFC for a long, long time. But that didn’t get us the points.
“I really believe that we have got a chance to do something this season and when we’re giving away cheap points and cheap goals, it annoys me.
“I’m a winner, I want to win so it frustrates me because I want to improve, and I want this club to improve as well. Anything I said after the game on Saturday, I’ll be honest with you, the players already said it themselves.
“For me, that was a big positive after such a deflating defeat – losing 93rd minute, lost journey etc. because they gave each other some home truths and that was pleasing if I’m honest.
“Anything I say to the press after a game, the players have always heard it first. We’re all in it together and let’s not forget the stability, the improvements we’ve been making and let’s not get carried away.
“We’re Newport County AFC and we have no divine right to win a football match and we’ve got to take every game like we’re playing top of the league.”
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