Mike Flynn says his Newport County AFC squad must seize the initiative if they want to conclude the League Two season in a positive manner and potentially make the play-offs.
Tomorrow’s match against Exeter City starts a prolonged length of home matches for the Exiles as five of the next six League Two fixtures come at Rodney Parade - against Exeter, Port Vale, Mansfield Town, MK Dons and Swindon Town.
But the travelling Grecians will pose a tough challenge in South Wales as they desperately need the points themselves to ascend back into the top-seven having dropped out of them when being held by Morecambe at home last weekend.
Flynn affirmed: “Exeter had won one in nine matches at one stage, we’ve won one in seven and everyone is saying it’s a catastrophe. Come on, let’s put it back in perspective.
“Exeter have a bigger budget than us, they’ve had their squad together for longer than us and they’ve been in the play-off final for two years in a row.
“And let’s be honest, we should have won the last three league games [against Crawley, Stevenage and Crewe Alexandra.] If we had have won those games, we’d be above Exeter.
“It’s nothing to get too worried about at the moment – it’s more about cutting out the individual errors and getting back into the top half of the table.”
Overall, Flynn’s home record since taking charge of the club has been highly impressive and he’s hoping that this succession of home contests will give County the impetus they need to regain a high league position.
He stated: “It’s unbelievable. The record we’ve had at home since I took charge – take out the CheckaTrade games because I played a weaker team and maybe some of the kids as well – you look at it then, it’s probably only six games we’ve lost.
“We’ve played Leeds, Spurs, Walsall and Leicester. Had to play Blackpool and Luton in the year they both got promoted.
“We’ve played some big, big clubs at Rodney Parade and I think it’s a fantastic record. But it’s all good saying it – we’ve got to go out and extend it on Saturday.
“Five of the next six league games are at home so that gives us a chance, but it only gives us a chance if we go out there and do the business.”
Some early team-news sees Flynn able to provide an update on Joss Labadie and captain Andrew Crofts who both missed the game at Crewe Alexandra last time out through injury.
Flynn confirmed: “Crofty will still be out but Joss Labadie is 50/50 for tomorrow which is good news.
“Crofty is still recovering from his hamstring injury. It’s nearly there, but it’s one of them where I don’t want to rush him for the sake of one game.”
Flynn’s roster has been boosted by the arrival earlier today of Regan Poole on loan from Manchester United.
Poole and Flynn worked closely together when the centre-half was last at Rodney Parade – and he’s hoping that relationship will work to beneficial effect for the remainder of the campaign.
He added: “I brought Regan through. I was running the academy then and I knew Regan was going to be a very, very good player.
“To be fair, it was good because me and Justin Edinburgh had a very good relationship and he would take notice of when I told him a couple were ready to go into the first-team.
“I’ve watched Regan play in midfield quite a few times for Wales and Manchester United U23s.
“I always said when he was here that because he could read the game so well, he could play midfield because of his passing qualities as well.”
Tomorrow’s game will give the Exiles a chance to kickstart their league form after a heartbreaking defeat in Cheshire last weekend.
Flynn affirmed: “It was probably one of the lowest I’ve felt after a defeat. Not just because of the timing of the goals but just the way in which we conceded that third goal.
“Football is emotional and it’s a massive part of the game. If you can’t get emotional when you’ve just lost a game like that – leading 2-1 in the 88th minute then you probably need to re-think what you’re in the game for.
“I was very upset but what can I say? I let the players know my feelings because we need to be stronger. You can’t be losing games like that and conceding two in four minutes. Game management cost us the game but we all make mistakes.
“They’ve trained really hard this week like they always do. We’ve just had to get them up and pick them up.”