Newport County AFC have been on such an upward trajectory since Michael Flynn took charge of the club that midfielder Joss Labadie says promotion is the obvious next step of the journey.
The Exiles came within a whisker of a passage into League One in the last campaign but unfortunately lost the play-off final in heart-breaking circumstances to Tranmere Rovers at Wembley Stadium.
Influential talismen Joe Day and Dan Butler left for pastures new over the summer, but County have strengthened in all departments and concluded a positive pre-season with victory at Hungerford Town on Saturday.
And Labadie thinks County can learn from the last campaign and use the ‘hurt’ as motivation to go one step further this time around.
On the victory over Hungerford Town…
"This was the last fixture before Mansfield, and it was a really good runout for the boys. We all got 45 minutes, and everyone came away from it unscathed, so it was a really positive day for us.
"We’ve got competition for places now which is always good and even the trialists who played all knew their jobs and played really well. Positive day all round.
"Another goal for myself which I’m happy with. I need to get more goals into my game this season which is something the manager has been onto me for. Hopefully I can get a few more in the season.
"It’s been very good this pre-season. The manager was very happy, he’s always said that he wouldn’t be too fussed on results as long as we gave it our all and put the work in.
"That’s exactly what we did and we’re really looking forward to facing Mansfield Town now. Hopefully we can hit the ground running."
On beginning the 2019/20 campaign next weekend…
"Mansfield are a fierce team but so are we. They know what we’re about and we showed them that last season. It’ll be a good one to start the season off.
"You could say the play-off semi-finals don’t matter because it’s in the past now but we’re still hurting from the final and they’ll be hurting from the semi-finals. I’m sure it’ll be a full-blooded affair.
"The aim is to have a full season [of fitness], which is the same for all the boys."
On targets for the 2019/20 campaign…
"Promotion. Since the gaffer has come in, we’ve always improved – saved ourselves from relegation, successful season the next year and play-offs the next year.
"I think promotion has to be the aim this time around.
"There’s no reason why we can’t achieve that. We competed with the best teams in the league last season so it’s a natural progression for us."
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