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Interviews

PRESS | Mike Flynn previews Saturday's trip to Oldham Athletic

6 September 2018

Mike Flynn has urged his Newport County AFC squad to carry on the momentum built up in League Two over the opening month of the season and use it to their advantage when they travel to Oldham Athletic on Saturday.

Like the Exiles, the Latics head into the game unbeaten in League Two since the opening day of the season when they fell to a narrow defeat to MK Dons.

Since that game, Oldham have accrued 11 points across their other five matches in the division and could leapfrog County with a victory at Boundary Park.

The Latics currently reside in 6th position and Flynn affirmed: “They’ve got a very strong team.

“It’s a tough place to go, played there a few times in my career, and I’m glad we’re going there at this time of year instead of December or January because it can really be a cold, dark place then.

“Look, we’re going to go there to win the football match – I’m not going for a point – we want to win the game and we’ll find out at 5pm on Saturday if that’s been successful or not.

“It’s a tough place to go but one we’re looking forward to.”

County haven’t travelled to Boundary Park since 6th October 1981 – when the Ironsides went down to a 1-0 defeat in the first-leg of a League Cup tie.

It is therefore expected to be a new stadium for the majority of County fans to tick off the list, but one person who has prior experience of the venue is Flynn.

He continued: “I enjoyed it when I went there with Wigan, I’m sure Neil Roberts got the winner and I think we won 1-0. I might be wrong, we may have won 2-1 I can’t remember exactly but yeah, there are some good memories.

“I tend to forget the bad ones, so I can’t remember them!

“Oldham have been in a couple of divisions and it’ll be the first time a lot of fans have been there as well I suppose.  Let’s just hope it’s one for them to remember and we get a positive result there.”

Oldham Athletic had the chance to survive in League One last season and would have remained in the division had they secured an away victory at Northampton Town on the final day of the season.

A 2-2 draw twinned with Joe Thompson’s decisive intervention for Rochdale ultimately sent the Latics down and at the start of this campaign, they were the least favoured of the four relegated teams to bounce straight back up.

They have silenced those critics somewhat with their positive start to the campaign and Flynn has warned his players that they will have to be on their best form if they want a result in Greater Manchester.

He added: “Of course they will [be expected to be towards the top of the table.] Came down last season, still got some very good players in their squad and hopefully we can catch them on an off day.

“I think my players put pressure on themselves now. They are an honest group and they’ll be going to Oldham to win a football match.

“It’ll be a good game and it’s one I’m looking forward to.”

Last weekend’s victory at Port Vale put the Exiles in second position in the League Two table, just three points off early pace setters Lincoln City, but Flynn again reiterated his stance that the table means absolutely nothing at this stage of the season.

He continued: “Like I’ve said before, I don’t take any notice of the league table at this stage. It’s nice to be going well of course, but we’ve got to keep it going.

“We take things game by game, won’t get carried away now because there only needs to be a few injuries and it might become really tough.

“It’s good that we’re getting points on the board but that’s all we’re doing at the moment.”

Instead of focusing on what the Port Vale victory did in terms of league position, Flynn preferred to focus on the performance and strength of his squad during the contest.

The gritty and determined performance highlighted everything positive about County at this early stage of the season and the display embodied everything Flynn and his coaching staff have been trying to achieve.

Speaking about his squad, Flynn affirmed: “I’m going to say this quite often this season, I’ve got a great group. They work hard for each other day in day out, they back each other up as well.

“They’ve got everyone else’s back – it’s important when your teammate slips and somebody else can pull you out of the mire. It’s a good trait to have as a team.

“Yeah I think it is [the best squad I’ve had at this football club.]

“I still think one or two that have gone would have added to the squad, so I’ll never be disrespectful to certain players but definitely, I think there’s more players now pushing for a starting place.

“We just need to keep that going now and give them their best chance in this team to produce the goods.”

He continued: “I’ve always encouraged the boys to play football. We’ve worked on it, if anyone was at the meetings in pre-season then they would have seen that we work on things in training to transpire into the game.

“I’ve never said just kick it as long as you can because I’d hate that, especially being a midfielder.

“The boys are carrying out exactly what we’re trying to do and the way we want to play football.

“We’ve played a few teams this season who have said how good we looked, there was a certain manager who said that we absolutely played them off the park and that they didn’t deserve anything anyway.”

Some early team-news ahead of the trip to Boundary Park sees Flynn with a selection problem up-front.

Antoine Semenyo has been ruled out with the concussion picked up during the Carabao Cup exit to Oxford United, while Mark Harris is also unavailable having been called up for Welsh international duty.

Speaking about his attacking force, Flynn confirmed: “I’ve just been informed this morning that Antoine Semenyo is not available for Saturday due to his concussion. Because he’s between the ages of 17 and 19 years of age, it means there’s an extra protocol [which has ruled him out.]

“I’m not a doctor so I won’t say too much more on that, but his health is the most important thing.

[On Harris’ international call-up] “That’s why I was probably more annoyed [with the decision that rules Antoine out on Saturday.]

“Oldham have got two out through international call-ups and we’ve got two out as well. Mark Harris has been very good for us, so he will be a player we miss on Saturday.”

The only other injury problem ahead of the weekend remains midfielder Robbie Willmott, who is yet to play a minute of competitive action this season having suffered a hamstring injury.

Flynn stated: “With Robbie, I think we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I won’t be putting a date on it because I don’t know, but he did look good in training yesterday which was a good sign.”

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