My biggest test yet – County boss ready for the toughest of three days
EBBSFLEET v COUNTY (Tomorrow, KO 3pm)
NEWPORT County AFC will clock-up nearly 1,000 miles on the road over the next few days in what Justin Edinburgh des-cribes as one of the biggest tests of his managerial career.
County face a round-trip of 362 miles to Kent to take on Ebbsfleet United tomorrow before the 576-mile slog to Hartlepool and back on Monday for the rearranged match against Gateshead.
It’s a crucial period in his side’s Blue Square Bet title charge and Edinburgh is convinced his players can keep the pace with leaders Wrexham.
The squad is on a high after five successive wins, the last of which saw them come from behind to beat Hereford United in stoppage-time on Tuesday.
That left them three points behind their Welsh rivals with two games in hand before Wrex-ham’s trip to Dartford tonight.
“It’s a tough schedule because we’ve got four consecutive away games and I don’t think anyone else has had to do that,” said Edinburgh, whose side also won 1-0 at Hyde last Saturday.
“Fortunately it has coincided with a good run we’re on and we want that to continue.
“We’ve had a lot of miles to cover but the players haven’t moaned about it and we’ve produced some great performances.
“When you’re winning nobody seems to get tired,” added the Exiles boss. “But it’s a big test of my managing skills now to see who needs resting and who doesn’t.
“It’s a case of me managing the squad now and judging who can play on and who needs a rest.
“I rested Scott Donnelly against Hereford because he looked a bit jaded.
“I thought Rhys Griffiths did very well in his full debut but then Scotty came on for the last half an hour and made a good impact.
“We’ve got a good squad here and I feel that whoever comes in can do a job so if we need to rest players we can do that.”
The players will return to Newport tomorrow night and have a recovery training session on Sunday before travelling up to Hartlepool on Monday morning and then back again after the game.
But Edinburgh is not looking beyond the match at struggling Ebbsfleet, who lost 4-1 at Wrexham on Tuesday.
“No game at this level is a gimme,” he warned. “We’ve been beaten by some lower teams this season and anyone who thinks this will be an easy three points is mistaken.
“They’re fighting for points to stay in this division and we’re chasing them for different reasons but it won’t be easy.
“Their home form is better than their away form. They’ve had some good results against the top teams so if we go there and underestimate them we’ll come unstuck.”
County will be without striker Danny Crow after he suffered a recurrence of his hamstring injury at Hereford but they are optimistic that he will be fit to return before the end of the campaign.
Physio Wayne Jones said: “We’re still waiting for the results of the scan but we’re very hopeful that it is not as bad as first feared and he could be back within a month.”
Fellow striker Aaron O’Connor has recovered from his torn thigh muscle but probably won’t be risked for these two games.
Midfielder Max Porter (groin) is also still unavailable but Ben Swallow (hamstring) is close to a return.