No rest for County players as festive fixtures come thick and fast
FOR most people the Christmas and New Year is a time for rest and relaxation but for footballers its the busiest time of the year.
Newport County AFC manager Justin Edinburgh is preparing his troops for the hectic festive fixture list and he insists resting players is the last thing on his mind.
Starting this afternoon against AFC Wimbledon, the Exiles play five games in 15 days but Edinburgh says he will find it hard to change a team in such great form.
County may have exited both the FA Cup and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy this month but they are unbeaten in League Two since November 2.
And a win over Wimbledon today could see them rise into the automatic promotion spots in time for Christmas.
“I tend not to try and rest players too much,” explained Edinburgh. “When I was a player I always wanted to be playing games rather than training and if I was playing well I wouldn’t want to step out.
“It’s my job now to look at the squad and assess who needs to play and who needs to step in and that is something we’ll do game to game.
“We have options to change it, not in abundance, but I have no concerns with that.
“I think everyone who is in that team at the moment will want to play every game and as long as we don’t pick up more injuries they won’t want to be rested.
“And the way we’re playing right now it would be difficult to leave anyone out.”
Edinburgh has previously stated that he doesn’t see the need for any major additions to his squad in the January transfer window and that hasn’t changed.
“I think we’ve got good competition in every place now,” he said, pointing to the fact that skipper David Pipe, the man who lifted the Conference play-off final trophy aloft at Wembley in May, has been unable to command a regular starting place this term.
“We’ve had our captain out for a long time, longer than anyone would have thought and that shows the depth that we have.
“And Andy Sandell has come back in and not even looked like he’s been out of the side so I’m happy with the squad.
“Maybe we have some areas with more bodies than others but the versatility of this squad is a strength.”
One area of concern is in the goalkeeping department with back-up ‘keeper Jamie Stephens out with a hamstring injury.
But Edinburgh is not intending to sign a short-term replacement and will instead rely in defender Sandell as an emergency stopper if number one Lenny Pidgeley is injured or sent off.
“If anything was to happen to Lenny during a game then I would look to bring someone in but I don’t think that’s necessary right now,” said the Exiles boss.
“I think the only way we’d get a goalkeeper of the quality we’d need is to offer him first team football and we couldn’t do that so we’ve just got to sit tight and hopefully Jamie will recover quickly.”
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