NEWPORT County AFC goalkeeper Ian McLoughlin says the Exiles have to be ruthless and pile on the pain for crisis club Portsmouth today.

Pompey, the 2008 FA Cup winners and 2010 finalists, arrive at Rodney Parade on the verge of a third-straight relegation and banishment to non-league football.

Manager Richie Barker was sacked on Thursday with the South Coast giants just two points above the League Two drop zone.

And McLoughlin says County have to take advantage of the disarray in the visitors’ camp to claim three points this afternoon and boost their flagging play-off hopes.

“The Portsmouth fans are very loyal,” said the Dublin-born stopper on loan from MK Dons.

“They’ve stuck with their club even though they’ve dropped down the leagues and it’ll be a great atmosphere because our fans are great too.

“But we’ve got to be ruthless and kick them when they’re down.

“We’ve tightened up a bit at the back now with Kevin Feely and Darcy Blake coming in and we got that clean sheet under our belts at Torquay.

“We would have been disappointed not to have kept a clean sheet against them because they’re struggling at the bottom of the league.

“The same goes for Bury and Portsmouth as well but we’ve been fighting to survive in this league too so we want to inflict as much pain on the others as we can.

“It’s what everyone is trying to do to us so while they’re down you have to do everything you can to keep them down there.”

McLoughlin played a big part in the 1-0 win at Plainmoor last Saturday with a superb double save at the death but he’s full of praise for the impact Feely and Blake have made.

“I think they’ve gelled really quickly and we all have because I’ve only been here two weeks myself,” said the 22-year-old.

“Darcy is the brains and Kev wins everything in the air even against big guys like Enoch Showunmi and Clive Platt.

“He’s won every header and so has Darcy, who then fills in behind. It’s working well for us at the minute.

“I’d never heard of Kev before he came here but he’s showing he’s got great potential,” he added.

“He’s only 21 but he’s a big lad and he doesn’t get thrown about. He’s come from a background of Gaelic football so he won’t be bullied.”

And McLoughlin believes that a win today, following Tuesday’s point against Bury, will boost the Exiles’ slim hopes of a top-seven finish.

“We can definitely still make the play-offs,” he said.

“There’s eight games left and teams are losing games so anything can happen.

“If we go on a run and teams above us keep dropping points they’ll start to crumble.”