Newport County AFC upset the odds in the Emirates FA Cup last season when beating Championship opposition Leeds United then drawing with Premier League heavyweights Tottenham Hotspur – and Mike Flynn thinks his side can produce an upset again this campaign.
The Exiles host another Premier League opposition in Leicester City on Sunday (16:30pm kick-off) at Rodney Parade with the game being broadcast on BBC One.
And Flynn believes the cameras are coming to South Wales because there is potential for another County cup upset.
“It’s huge – it’s a great game,” he affirmed.
“It’s a free hit, nobody really expects us to win but nobody expected us to get anything against Spurs last year or even Leeds come to think of it.
“It’s exciting and hopefully the boys go out there and show what they can do. On their day, they are very capable of raising their levels.
“Let’s not dress it up, the game is on TV because there is a chance of an upset. I believe that if we go out, Leicester have an off day, and we play to the best of our abilities then there could be an upset.”
Leicester City are arguably the biggest club to have never won the Emirates FA Cup.
The Foxes have been runners-up on four previous occasions – losing each time to a team that currently composes the Premier League – and they will be hoping to go one step further on this occasion.
They’ve proven in recent weeks that they can beat some of the clubs favoured to win the competition come May and Flynn expects to be facing a team full of confidence having had a successful start to the current season.
He said: “I think, first of all, it was such sad news what happened. I think it’s brought Leicester City closer again – I know they were a close, family orientated club before but I think it has brought them closer.
“You have to look for positives from such a disaster and you have to try and make those people proud who put a lot of time and effort into the club and the community.
“They won the Premier League two years ago, let’s not get away from that. Leicester are a good Premier League team who beat Chelsea and Manchester City in the past few weeks. It’s going to be difficult.
“They are 7th in the league behind the big six so I think they are a having a great season and anyone in football would say the same.”
Like County, Leicester also head into the game off the back of a tough run of fixtures in such a short period of time – the Foxes played four Premier League fixtures over 11 days in the festive period.
“I hope they do [make changes,]” Flynn added.
“Let’s not dress it up, we need Leicester to rest a few. They are going well in the Premier League but whoever comes in, if there are changes, will have quality.
“Leicester is a squad full of internationals and even the ones that are not regulars are international players or there about.
“It’s going to be tough but we’ll prepare as if it’s Leicester’s best team because I’m sure they are thinking they could win the FA Cup this season.”
No prizes for guessing which player in particular Flynn is hoping the Foxes give an afternoon off to at Rodney Parade.
“Jamie Vardy is a very talented footballer,” he admitted.
“He’s been through all the leagues, he’ll know what it’s like to play at somewhere like Rodney Parade as he would have done it throughout his career.
“He’s probably the one I do want Leicester to rest because he’ll know what it’s like to come here and he’ll be up for it. He’s a good professional and he’ll know what to expect.
“He has worked very hard in his career, moved on tenfold [from his non-league days] and he’s rightfully at a Premier League club. Played international football for England as well.
“It’s ‘Roy of the Rovers’ stuff really when you look at it so it’s one of those where you don’t want Leicester’s players to have any experience of lower league stuff because that could catch them out.”
In terms of potential team-news for County, Flynn says he is going to give some players until right before kick-off to prove their fitness with a couple of knocks within the squad.
“I’m not saying too much because I’m still waiting on a few,” he confirmed.
“Joss Labadie will probably miss out and Dan Butler who is suspended. Those two are the definite [absentees] and I’ll wait more on the others. Mark Harris is doubtful, nothing confirmed on his future yet, but I’m doubtful that his loan will get extended in time for Sunday.”
County know better than most League Two clubs how important an Emirates FA Cup run can be to galvanise a club, a community and a city.
Extra seating was put in place for the Tottenham Hotspur game at Rodney Parade due to demand and popularity in the fixture.
County are already creating those memories again this season – and Flynn feels it is important for everyone to unite as one to help the team hopefully reach the Fourth Round for the second successive season.
“It helped to rejuvenate and bring together the supporters and the community,” said Flynn when reflecting on last season’s Emirates FA Cup run.
“People enjoyed coming back watching Newport County AFC and I’ve said it before, when the club went out of business, there was a lost generation of supporters.
“With the big games last season and the way they went, it went a big step towards getting them back and also getting some new recruits as in younger supporters.”
The build-up and the match itself comes after a crucial week off the field as it was announced on Thursday evening that striker Padraig Amond had signed a year extension to his contract.
“I think its great news for the football club,” Flynn affirmed.
“He’s very talented and I’m pleased he’s triggered his new deal.
“It goes to show that we try to put the right things in place and it’s rewarded him because he’s been very consistent since he’s been here.
“Padraig is a very good professional and he’s a student of the game as well because he’s very interested in the coaching side of things as well.
“That comes across in the questions he asks – he always wants to find out more information about how it works on the other side and I think that helps him in his game as well to be honest.”